LGBT rights in Wyoming
|LGBT rights in Wyoming|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1977|
|Discrimination protections||None (see below)|
|Wyo. Stat. Ann. §20-1-101, 2003 limits marriage to man/woman|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Wyoming may face some legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Wyoming, but same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all of the same protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Wyoming is the only state in the nation that has no published sodomy cases.1
Wyoming does not allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.4 Wyoming law (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §20-1-101, 2003) states, "Marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female person to which the consent of the parties capable of contracting is essential."5 Wyoming law also states that "All marriage contracts which are valid by the laws of the country in which contracted are valid in this state," and does not specifically exempt same-sex marriages from that recognition. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §20-1-111)6 Some interpret this as allowing the state recognize of same-sex marriages celebrated elsewhere.789
In 2009, the House considered an amendment to the state constitution, House Joint Resolution 17, known as the "Defense of Marriage" resolution, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. After an intense, emotional debate on the matter, the measure was defeated in a vote by the full House on February 6, with 35 votes against and 25 in favor.11
On January 24, 2011, the House passed a bill that would prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside the state.12 On February 18, it was passed by the Senate,13 but after further legislative action it failed.14 On January 27, 2011, the Senate approved, by two-thirds majority, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.15 The proposal died in the House.16dead link On January 28, 2011, the House Judiciary Committee voted down a bill legalizing civil unions.17
On January 14, 2013, legislators filed two bills. One would establish same-sex marriage in Wyoming by defining marriage as a civil contract between "two natural persons". The other would create domestic partnerships to allow same-sex couples to "obtain the rights, responsibilities, protections and legal benefits provided in Wyoming for immediate family members." Legislators who favor same-sex marriage supported the legislative tactic of offering the two alternatives.18 On January 28, a House committee defeated the marriage bill 5-4 and approved the domestic partnership bill 7-2, which Governor Matt Mead has said he favors.19 On January 30, 2013, the House rejected the domestic partnership bill in a 24-35 vote.20
In November 2010, a district judge ruled that he lacked jurisdiction to grant a divorce to a two Wyoming women who married in Canada in 2006.21 On June 6, 2011, the Supreme Court of Wyoming in Christiansen v. Christiansen unanimously reversed a district court decision and granted the divorce. Its decision said: "Nothing in this opinion should be taken as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages legally solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context other than divorce. The question of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before us, is left for another day."2223
On August 13, 2010, David Shupe-Roderick, 25, and Ryan Dupree, 21, a gay couple from Cheyenne representing themselves though neither was a lawyer,24 filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Wyoming law that defines marriage as a contract between a man and a woman after the Laramie County Clerk's Office refused to issue them a marriage license.25 26 On September 10, the couple dropped their suit, saying that "circumstances had changed."24
In September 2011, the University of Wyoming first offered limited domestic partnership benefits to its employees.272829 The $600 per month voucher will come from the University's external funds; officials emphasized that no tax dollars would be used for the insurance benefit.28 According to the official University of Wyoming website, "The benefit provides an allowance to assist in paying for health insurance for partners and dependents. The allowance is equivalent in dollar amount to the state’s contributions to the Wyoming employees’ group insurance plan for spouses and dependents."27 University officials had worked on the benefit "for years", since the mid-2000s, approving it in 2009, but only funding the program for the 2011-2012 academic year when money became available.29 A University spokesperson said they offered the benefit because "the school needed to recognize domestic partners in order to attract top-flight faculty and administrators...." 29 To secure the benefit, employees must fill out an affidavit, in addition to the other paperwork, during the open enrollment period.27
It was thought that very few other agencies would enroll their employees,29 but that has not proved to be the case. An employee at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, applied in January 2012 for similar benefits.30 College officials were looking into offering such benefits from its own pool of funds.30
Colleges and universities may also establish a spousal hire to solve the two-body problem, which is a job search by a dual-career couple in academia. An institution in a small, rural state such as Wyoming may be under increased pressure to hire a spouse than in a large metropolitan area.
There are no laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. On January 31, 2011, the state House rejected a bill banning such discrimination.31 Likewise, on January 31, 2013, the state Senate rejected a similar bill by a vote of 15 to 13.32
Wyoming has no hate crimes law.3334 In 1999, following the murder of Matthew Shepard, such legislation was "hotly debated." Proponents of such legislation since then have preferred the term "bias crime."34
- "The History of Sodomy Laws in the United States - Wyoming". Glapn.org. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
- William N. Eskridge, Dishonorable Passions: Sodomy Laws in America, 1861-2003 (NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 201n, available online, accessed April 10, 2011
- TITLE 6 - CRIMES AND OFFENSES
- Wyoming Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law
- Wyoming Statutes online
- "Cheyenne gay couple challenges Wyo. marriage law | KULR-8 News, Sports, Weather | - Billings, MontanaLocal Coupons | Wyoming State News". Kulr8.com. August 25, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Wyoming to consider marriage amendment". Gaylesbiantimes.com. January 22, 2009. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- Associated Press (January 13, 2009). "Wyoming to consider marriage amendment". Trib.com. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Panel kills gay marriage bill". Caspar Star Tribune. February 22, 2007. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Miller, Jared (February 7, 2009). "Gay marriage ban falls in House". Caspar Star Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Pelzer, Jeremy (January 24, 2011). "House passes anti-gay marriage bill". Caspar Star Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Pelzer, Jeremy (February 18, 2011). "Wyoming Senate passes anti-gay marriage bill". Caspar Star Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Lecalir, Aaron (March 3, 2011). "Anti-gay marriage bill defeated in Senate". Laramie Boomerang. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Fankhauser, Chris (January 27, 2011). "House Now Gets Chance At Gay Marriage Bill". KCSR. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Same-sex marriage constitutional amendment dies in Wyoming House after missing deadline
- Pelzer, Jeremy (January 28, 2011). "Wyoming House committee votes down civil unions bill". Caspar Star Tribune. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Huelsmann, Kevin (January 15, 2013). "Lawmakers back gay marriage, union bills". Jackson Hole News and Guide. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Celock, John (January 29, 2013). "Wyoming Legislative Committee Rejects Gay Marriage, Passes Domestic Partnerships". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
- "Wyoming House defeats domestic partnership bill". Billings Gazette. January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
- Pelzer, Jeremy (January 14, 2011). "Same-sex divorce stirs debate". Billings Gazette. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Barron, Joan (June 7, 2011). "Wyoming Supreme Court reverses same-sex divorce ruling". Caspar Star Tribune. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Jones, Ashby (June 7, 2011). "Wyoming High Court Grants Divorce to Same-Sex Couple". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- "Gay Wyo. Couple Drops Marriage Suit". The Advocate. September 15, 2010. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Dynes, Michelle (August 25, 2010). "Cheyenne gay couple challenge state law". Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
- Cheyenne gay couple challenge state law
- University of Wyoming (August 15, 2011). "Office of Academic Affairs Domestic Partner Benefits". University of Wyoming. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
- Pelzer, Jeremy (August 20, 2011). "University of Wyoming covers insurance costs for domestic partners". Star-Tribune. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
- Pelzer, Jeremy (August 30, 2011). "University of Wyoming worked for years on domestic partner definition". Star-Tribune. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
- Zhorov, Irina (February 2, 2012). "Community college professor wants domestic partner benefits". Wyoming Public Media. Retrieved February 11, 2012.
- H.B. No. 0142
- Barron, Joan. "Wyoming Senate defeats gay discrimination bill," trib.com, 31 January 2013, accessed 1 February 2013.
- "Wyoming Hate Crimes Law," hrc.org, accessed 1 February 2013.
- Rule, Juliette (October 5, 2003). "Bias-crime law a hard sell in Wyoming". Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Retrieved January 25, 2013.