Sunday, December 26, 2010

Here we go again -- Republican legislators seek to deny equality in The Equality State

It's the day after Christmas. That means it's time to take stock of the year and engage in prognostications for 2011.

I can sum up 2010 in two words -- it stunk.

Especially the November election in Wyoming.

Republicans now control all of the state’s five elected offices and have a commanding majority in the legislature. Veto-proof, as if that was necessary.

Matt Mead is a moderate and I would have voted for him if I weren’t such a dedicated Liberal, and stubborn to boot. Leslie Petersen is a great person but not such a great candidate. It didn’t help that voters were wildly indignant about nearly everything (real and imaginary) and wanted to vote the rascals out but just ended up putting inexperienced people in important positions.

Just 22 percent of us voted for Ms. Petersen. The rest for Mr. Mead and various and sundry, including Taylor Haynes, Laramie County’s own Tea Party favorite. He got more than 13,000 write-in votes.

As I said earlier, Mr. Mead is a moderate and he’ll get grief from the Know Nothings in his own party. They plan some mischief in the upcoming 90-day legislative session. We’ve already been privy to some of their plans.

First, it’s time once again to demonize homosexuals. A resolution will be introduced called The Defense of Marriage Act. A similar bill was defeated in 2009. It has once again reared its ugly head.

The bill’s goal, say supporters, is to allow voters to close the loophole in state law. Wyoming has proclaimed that marriage is between a man and a woman. The legislature already decided that. However, Wyoming also guarantees that marriages performed in other states must be recognized here.

You can see the dilemma. Marriages between same-sex partners performed in such liberal hotbeds as Iowa and New Hampshire must be acknowledged by The Equality State. If we don’t act quickly, these people will flood into Wyoming and openly establish businesses, teach our children, create fine art, run for office and cause many traditional marriages to be threatened. And I almost forget – they will openly serve as missileers at Warren AFB, train combat troops at Camp Guernsey and fly those lumbering C-130s over my house in Cheyenne.

We don’t want that.

Who are the sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill? All Republicans, of course. Here are some quotes on the issue from an article in today’s Wyoming Tribune-Eagle:
"It's about the right of Wyoming voters to vote," said Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, who plans on co-sponsoring an updated resolution. "We're setting a community standard for Wyoming."
A community standard for Wyoming? How a senator from the charming Goshen County hamlet of LaGrange (pop. 334) feels he needs to establish a standard for the rest of Wyoming (pop. 563,626 – 2010 census) is beyond me. He has ally from across the state in a Uinta County metropolis. Rep. Owen Petersen of Mountain View (pop. 1,153) plans to sign on as a co-sponsor.

Both of these Republican candidates ran unopposed in the general election. They come from very conservative rural communities. Tea Party Land. Uinta County is home to unsuccessful Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Ron Micheli. I will have to look up the names of the other co-sponsors. My bet is that they all hail from the far rural reaches of The Equality State. You would think they would have better things to do than demonize their fellow citizens. What about the state’s education crisis, energy regulations, rising poverty rate, sky-high teen suicide rate, Medicaid funding shortfall and infrastructure problems, such as the disintegration of I-80? Minor issues that will determine the future of the state.

Here’s what Cheyenne Rep. Ken Esquibel (Democrat) had to say about the DOMA resolution:
Rep. Ken Esquibel, D-Cheyenne, said he believes it's a proposal that does more to make social conservatives feel good than to protect traditional marriage. And while he personally believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he doesn't think the argument of tradition should be used to tell others how to live.
"I don't see how we can call ourselves the Equality State when we are singling out a group of people," he said.
Esquibel said a better way to preserve traditional marriage would be to bring forth legislation requiring heterosexual couples to get counseling before divorcing.
Well said, Ken.

The upcoming legislature also plans to revamp the state’s primary election procedures. This is due to the fact that many Democrats switched parties during the August primary to vote against ultra-conservative Ron Micheli. Republicans thought this was dirty pool and that Democrats shouldn’t be allowed to keep right-wing kooks out of the governor’s office. We’ll see what happens with that.

I suppose there will be several bills related to state’s rights and nullification and the scourge that is “Obamacare” and the labeling of wolves as terrorists. While entertaining, all these add up to a huge embarrassment for Wyoming. Let’s hope cooler and more moderate heads prevail.

See you in Cheyenne in January.

Follow the fun on the legislature's web site.

1 comment:

Joshua N Wood said...

Why am I not surprised that DOMA has once again raised it's ugly, bigoted head? I would have to agree with Rep. Esquibel in that this is more to make social conservatives feel good.
Traditional marriage hasn't been traditional for a long while. How many couples are together but don't get married? How many single parents do we have? Aren't those also enemies of "traditional marriage"?

Wyoming, caught up in Tea Party fever, is simply going to nationally embarras itself.