Wyoming Supreme Court Grants Divorce to Same-Sex Couple

The Wyoming Supreme Court yesterday unanimously overturned a lower court ruling and granted a divorce to a same-sex couple legally married in Canada, the Casper Star-Tribune reports:

Wyoming District Judge Keith Kautz of Niobrara County earlier dismissed the 2010 divorce petition of Paula Christiansen against Victoria Lee Christiansen for lack of jurisdiction.

The women were legally married in Canada in 2008.

The Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Michael Golden, made clear the court's decision only addressed the divorce issue.

"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," Golden wrote in a footnote. "The question of recognition of such same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before us, is left for another day."

Igor Volsky at Think Progress, writes:

"The opinion lays out three different types of marriages: legal marriages between a man and a woman that are recognized by the state of Wyoming, marriages that the state does not recognize but are common in other states (like common law marriages) and a third very low form of marriage that is “deemed contrary to the law of nature.” Significantly, the Court found that same-sex marriage fit into the second category and likened them to common law marriages which, while not recognized by the state, can be dissolved within it."

Read the opinion HERE.


  1. Leroy Laflamme says

    What on earth is a marriage ‘deemed contrary to the law of nature’? Is that like one of those Leviticus affairs, between a man & his goat? Or his neighbor’s ass?

  2. Landon says

    I don’t get it. Why would Wyoming have the power to divorce any Canadian married couple, gay or straight? Are Canadian spouses automatically married in the USA too (if it’s legal)?

  3. breckroy says

    You are all right on the fact that customarily we have recognized marriages from other countries and states, even if they were different (in slight ways) from our own laws. But we don’t allow a Saudi Prince who relocates here to list more than one wife legally, and thanks to DOMA and a handful of other, mostly Bush-era, post-DOMA regulations, we specifically don’t recognize gay marriages from other countries and many, many states resist (and have even passed laws or amendments about) divorces of legally married gay couples because of the “fear” (ugh) that recognizing a gay couple’s marriage officially long enough to divorce them is still a recognition, that could then be used as legal precedent to “force” recognition of gay marriages performed elsewhere for, say, benefits or inheritance purposes. Texas has been battling this one back and forth for some time, mostly with unfortunate results (for gays and those who believe we have rights).

    Hope that helps explain it a bit, and, at the very least, explains why the court here went so far out of their way to explain the narrow, narrow scope of this divorce action.

  4. JFE says

    I think some people are missing that this same-sex couple actually wanted to get divorce, it wasn’t Wyoming doing it. This is similar to that case in Texas. Texas says no, you can’t get divorced, Wyoming says yes you can.

  5. vernon says

    Bobn: While the state of Wyoming does not ‘recognize’ same-sex marriages, this ruling is hardly a novelty. First-cousin marriages are not recognized(illegal) in Wyoming, yet, they grant divorces to couples with valid marriage certificates from other states that recognize first-cousin unions.

Leave A Reply