When it comes to intensity of debate, discussion of same-sex marriage may surpass abortion in the upcoming session. In the past three general sessions, Wyoming has seen numerous proposals aimed at creating a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, or prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriages from other states. Sine the early 1900s Wyoming law has defined marriage as between one man and one woman with statutes aimed at prohibiting polygamy.
In January 2011, the Senate passed a bill that would have called for a statewide referendum on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The bill later died in the House. A proposal to legalize civil unions died in the House Judiciary Committee.
Later in the session, a bill that would have prohibited Wyoming from recognizing same-sex marriages granted in other states nearly made it to Gov. Mead’s desk. After going through several revisions, House Bill 74 passed the House 31 to 28, but failed in the Senate on a 14 to 16 vote at the very end of the session in March.
Jeran Artery, lobbyist for Wyoming Equality, is confident that similar proposals against marriage equality will come up in the 2013 session. “I think WyWatch would like to see a ballot initiative for voters to define marriage as only a between a man and a woman,” he said. “I’m sure that they are strategizing behind the scenes equally as hard as Wyoming Equality has been strategizing.”
Artery’s group met with legislators last week to discuss drafting of bills in favor of marriage equality or civil unions.
Rep. Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) said she will be weighing the merits of pursuing a marriage equality bill versus a civil union bill. “I think there is much more of an appetite in Wyoming for a strong civil unions bill,” she said.
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