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Wyoming anti-gay marriage bill dies in state legislature

Monday, February 28, 2011
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A proposed amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that would have defined marriage as only between a man and woman, expired Friday when it missed a procedural deadline set in the state House.

The Senate bill (SJ5), failed to be presented for a final reading in the House.

However, another measure still pending would change Wyoming law to specify that the state would only recognize a marriage as being between one man and one woman.

There has been contentious debate in both Wyoming’s House and Senate over whether or not same-sex couples who entered civil unions elsewhere would have access to the state’s court system to resolve any issues that arise in their relationships.

House Majority Leader Representative Tom Lubnau (R-Gillette) told reporters that he had no desire to spend valuable time and effort in debating a bill that didn’t have the votes to pass. The measure had already passed the state’s Senate but requires a two-thirds vote passage in both houses before being sent to the Governor for his signature.

Fellow GOP legislator Amy Edmonds, (R-Cheyenne) said that given the differences in the House and the Senate over the measure, she felt that its future is “tenuous at best.” Edmonds serves on the legislative conference committee assigned to hammer out a compromise measure.

Currently, Wyoming constitutionally specifies marriage can only exist between a man and a woman, however Wyoming law also says the state will recognize valid marriages performed in other states. The measure calls for state law to be clarified now that same-sex marriages are being performed in other states.

An issue has already arisen in a pending case before the state’s Supreme Court whether or not Wyoming courts have any authority over same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

The high court is reviewing a case in which a lower court judge ruled that he didn’t have authority to preside over a divorce case involving two women who married each other in Canada.

Critics say that both measures attack gays and lesbians and contradicts the state’s motto, “The Equality State.”

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