Marriage Equality Bill Introduced in Wyoming has Bipartisan Support

Marriage equality in Wyoming? Could it happen?


GingeryThe Jackson Hole Daily reports on a pair of bills that have been introduced with bipartisan support, backed by Jackson Republican Rep. Keith Gingery (pictured) and Laramie Democratic Rep. Cathy Connolly:

House Bill 169 would change the state’s definition of marriage to say that marriage is a civil contract between “two natural persons.” Current law says that marriage is a contract between “a male and a female person.”

This piece of legislation would plug gay marriage into the state’s existing framework for marriage, Gingery said. It simply would open the rights afforded to heterosexual couples to gay couples as well.

“Legally speaking, I would prefer the gay marriage bill,” he said. “We already know how it works.”

House Bill 168, which Connolly filed Monday, would create a legal framework for domestic partnerships, allowing same-sex couples to “obtain the rights, responsibilities, protections and legal benefits provided in Wyoming for immediate family members.”

The law would consider a member of a domestic partnership to be a spouse under all state rules and laws.

Gingery is a Catholic and says the bills protect church policy.

The paper adds:

The dual approach already has won the backing of Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, and Gingery. Both Teton County lawmakers said they would prefer to see gay marriage allowed in Wyoming but are willing to debate whether civil unions might be a better way to go.

“It’s a basic human rights and fairness issue,” Petroff said Monday. “It’s a basic constitutional issue. There should just be no reason why same-sex couples shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else.”

Gingery is the chairman of the judiciary committee, which will be the first to debate the bills. He said the issue poses a legal problem that state officials need to resolve. “The population of gay couples in the state is increasing, and the law is not very clear about what rights they have,” he said.


  1. Stefan says

    One of my friends who lives in Wyoming has said that the state is always looking for ways to be more competitive with Colorado and other Mountain West states. This might simply be an extension of that strategy. Also, the evangelical presence in that state is pretty weak, and a lot of people are unaffiliated with any religion (

    Of course, any state with a place named Jackson Hole must be at least a little progressive 😉

  2. Jere says

    My first question echos Diogenes’. Is the phrase “natural person” an actual legal term or is this a slam against transgendered people? Also, it seems to me (and I said the same thing when the marriage vs. civil union question arose in Colorado) that marriage equality is now the standard in this country and any state that would enact civil unions really needs to justify why their citizens are not as good or deserving of being treated equally as citizens of other states.

  3. Rob says

    “Natural” person is meant to distinguish the contracting party from a “legal” person, which could be a corporate entity or other organization, depending on the circumstances. A company is treated as a “legal” person when it enters into a contract, but would not be entitled to enter into a marriage, which is reserved solely for “natural” persons, i.e., actual human beings. This has nothing to do with whether someone is transgendered or not. In any case, this is very exciting news! Fingers crossed! :-)

  4. Will Welch says

    It did not come out of nowhere. It’s been in the workings since 2011 (there is one general session every 2 years for about 5 weeks, so we had to wait this long. It seems like out of nowhere to other people because nobody pays attention to what is happening in WY

  5. HG says

    Bad idea. The union of the opposite sex is different in many, many ways from the union of the same sex. There is nothing unfair or illegally discriminatory about marriage. Marriage simply recognizes the union of a man and a woman and respects the differences that set this union apart from same-sex unions.

  6. GLAW2014 says

    It is funny that people looked at the term “natural person” as some sort of slam to the transgender population, but yes as Rob explained above, natural refers to a person with a pulse and has to be distinguished from legal person or just person because that would also capture corporations, partnerships, LLCs…etc. Kudos to Wyoming for moving Forward!

  7. DB says

    Although it is one of the most overwhelmingly Republican states, Wyoming does have some tradition of small government and libertarian or liberal values. While Southern Republicans believe in Big government that controls people’s personal lives, some Western Republicans would support a small government in which people are allowed to choose who they marry. Wyoming was one of the first state’s to allow women to vote, meaning it has a liberal tradition unmatched by states in the Northeast.

  8. RyanInWyo says

    HG, welcome to 2013.! Just to catch you up on what’s happened since 1985: The argument you are making has been refuted countless times, in countless ways. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in countries on several continents (Canada did it 10 years ago) and in several US States and the District of Columbia. The world still continues to spin, though with justice and equality for a few more of its inhabitants.

    Oh, and we don’t have hover-boards like the one used by Marty McFly in Back to the Future (though there have been some lame attempted prototypes).

  9. christian says

    I am married to a Canadian (Legal Since 2005) and we live in Wyoming where I was raised. I have to say it’s a double edged sword. We are fairly progressive, but a lot of our population still thinks it’s the wild west. Remember Matthew Sheppard? I do. We might have to take more bad with the good.

  10. Jay says

    Wyoming was the first place ON EARTH to allow women the vote. The first female governor of a US state was from Wyoming. The first female justice of the peace was from Wyoming. Allowing equality for the LGBT community is one of a long list of positions that Wyoming, a Republican state, is proud of, as am I, a native son. I really, really hope this vote passes. Finger’s crossed!

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