Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wyoming legislators confront immigration surge of same-sex married couples

The Know-Nothings are back to their old tricks for the 2009 Wyoming Legislative session.

This from the AP’s Ben Neary:

Some Wyoming lawmakers want to amend the state constitution to specify that Wyoming won't recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, while opponents say they'll fight to defeat the measure for the second time in two years. Two-thirds of lawmakers would have to approve of the gay-marriage measure to put the proposed amendment before the voters. If approved, it would specify that only marriages between one man and one woman would be considered legal and valid in Wyoming.

I wrote about the ridiculousness of this bill during the 2007 session (see my March 7, 2007 post). That bill was opposed by equality-minded Democrats in the Equality State. But since Dems make up only .00005367 percent of the Legislature, we needed Republicans to kill the bill. Rep. Dan Zwonitzer was one of them. House Rules Committee member Rep. Tom Lubnau of Gillette took Zwonitzer’s side, acknowledging the Cheyenne legislator's speech before voting against the measure. The committee voted 7-6 to kill the bill, with House Speaker Roy Cohee, R-Casper, casting the tie-breaking vote. Zwonitzer couldn't vote against the bill because he's not on the committee. Other Republicans opposed the 2007 bill:

Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, said Monday that he would oppose the proposed constitutional amendment, just as he opposed the failed 2007 legislation that would have barred Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. He said he believes it would discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

He said it's not the state's place to take a position on same-sex marriages. He said he believes that religious beliefs are behind the effort to change Wyoming law."I am never going to begrudge religious beliefs," Childers said. "But what they're doing is forcing their religious beliefs into the legal system. And I'm a firm believer in the separation of church and state."

Wyoming already has a law in place that says only marriages between a man and a woman may be conducted in the state. However, the state is currently bound to recognize marriages performed in other states, some of which allow same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, one of the bill's sponsors. He’s being lobbied by a new group called WyWatch Family Institute (which lists a Carpenter, Wyo., post office box in its contact information), describes itself as a "group of Judeo-Christian families who have a goal to preserve traditional family values in the great state of Wyoming." Which Colorado Springs-based group of fundie wingnuts is advising WWFI? You get three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

Focus on the Family. Plus the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based fundie legal group.

Outside agitators. Ain’t it always the case.

For more info on this group, go to http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/groups/wywatch-family-institute

Wyoming Equality will oppose the legislation. Spokesman Bob Spencer said he believes it will be harder to defeat the proposal this year than it was two years ago. "I think it just means that there's been a general movement toward more accepting, and therefore I think it makes our legislators, who are quite conservative, more defensive," he said.


nemski said...

I hope the "moderate" Republicans come through for you.

MJ said...

Thanks for your post, but you got the name of the Colo Springs organization wrong - it's Fucus On the Family. After being away from Denver for 22 years, I'm still trying to figure out how all the wing-nuts got there.

Michael Shay said...

Is that pronounced Fyu-kus or Foo-kus or -- now I get it. Clever. I'm not sure how the fundies got to the Springs. We hope they are losing some of their punch.

sindynan said...

I've already gotten a phone call from some nut job telling me they were taking a survey about marriage, I told them where to put their 'push poll'. Taking away other peoples' rights does not make mine any more secure.

The Boise Picayune said...

Personally, I think government should be out of the "Marriage" business altogether.

I believe "Marriage" should be a non civil binding religious ceremony, with "Civil Unions" - traditional or otherwise - being the extent of governments involvement.

Anonymous said...

GetToKnowUsFirst has a series of PSAs that the dishonorable Sen. Curt Meier should be forced to watch.


Michael Shay said...

From what I can see on the legisweb site (updated 1/23), this bill is still alive. Drop Sen. Meier a line at cmeier@wyoming.com.