Marriage Equality Coming to Wyoming

by Stephen Peters

WASHINGTON– Today U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled against Wyoming’s law banning marriage equality for same-sex couples. In Guzzo v. Mead, the National Center for Lesbian Rights sued the state on behalf of Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples arguing that Wyoming’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. Judge Skavdahl granted a temporary stay and the ruling will not go into effect until October 23 or until state government officials say they are not appealing the decision. In his ruling, Judge Skavdahl wrote, “The court understands that every day where same-sex couples are denied their constitutional rights is another day filled with irreparable harm.”

During a debate on Thursday, October 16, Wyoming’s Governor Matt Meade said that the state should not appeal the district court’s decision if the ban is struck down.

A full feature map on the current state of marriage equality can be found here.

“According to today’s district court ruling and numerous others over the last year, there is no justifiable reason to keep these discriminatory marriage bans on the books,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The truth is, laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying serve no purpose other than to harm Americans who simply want to protect and provide for themselves and their families.  Ultimately the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to continue discriminating against committed and loving gay and lesbian couples.”

Earlier today, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled against Arizona’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.  Additionally, today the Supreme court denied a request for a stay on marriage equality in Alaska.

On Monday, October 6, the nine justices of the Supreme Court announced they had declined to hear any of the cases pending before them challenging state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.  This allowed the circuit court decisions striking down the bans to stand, meaning same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana could legally marry.  In addition, it left in place the circuit court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits. Wyoming is a part of the Tenth Circuit.

On Tuesday, October 7, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional in Idaho and Nevada. That same day, the stay on the court ruling in Colorado was lifted, allowing same-sex marriage to proceed. On Thursday, October 9th, West Virginia’s Attorney General agreed to stop defending the state’s ban, bringing the total number of states with marriage equality to 28, plus Washington, DC.

On Friday, October 10, a federal district judge ruled against North Carolina’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, and on Sunday, October 12, a federal district judge ruled Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. Today, October 17, a federal district court judge ruled against Arizona’s ban on marriage equality. These decisions brought the total number of states with marriage equality to 31, plus Washington, DC.

With today’s decision, same-sex couples will soon be able to marry in 32 states and Washington, DC, including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Gallup puts support for marriage equality at 55 percent – an astonishing 15 point increase from just 5 years ago – with other polls showing support at even higher margins.  And support for same-sex marriage rights continues to grow in virtually every demographic group.  According to ABC News / Washington Post, 77 percent of adults under age 30 favor marriage equality.  40 percent of Republicans – an all-time high and jump of 16 points in under two years – now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while the number of Catholics supporting marriage has grown to 62 percent,according to the New York Times.  These numbers continue to grow, with no indication that support will slow down.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.


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