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Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriages in Six More States

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in six additional states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last week, Holder made a similar announcement regarding federal recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. 

Via press release:

The Attorney General’s announcement means couples married in these states will now qualify for a range of federal benefits, including those administered by the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the Attorney General said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

In addition, the Attorney General also announced that the Department of Justice has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June. These marriages were performed immediately after federal district courts ruled that those states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those marriages. Based on the Attorney General’s announcement, however, those couples married during that period will now have their unions recognized by the federal government.


FIRST LOOK: Same-Sex Couples Begin Saying 'I Do' In Wyoming

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(Photo via Twitter)

With the news from Wyoming's Governor and Attorney General that the state will not appeal a district judge's ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, same-sex couples are officially able to marry in the now aptly named Equality State. Here are the first photos trickling in on Twitter of marriage equality arriving at long last in Wyoming.

Check them out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "FIRST LOOK: Same-Sex Couples Begin Saying 'I Do' In Wyoming" »


Marriage Equality Arrives In Wyoming

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6f6ece2970b-300wiWyoming Governor Matthew H. Mead has made good on his promise not to appeal a ruling that came down last week that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, BuzzFeed reports:

The State Defendants, Matthew H. Mead, Governor of Wyoming, Dean Fausset and Dave Urquidez, in their official capacities hereby notify the Court and the parties that they will not appeal the preliminary injunction [Doc. 44] to the United States Court of Appeals for the the Tenth Circuit.

As reported earlier, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said his ruling striking down the ban would take effect immediately if the state filed paperwork saying it would not appeal.

Wyoming will now become the 32nd state plus the District of Columbia that allows same-sex couples to wed. 


Marriage Equality to Begin in Wyoming Tomorrow

Wyoming

Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael has announced that the state will notify a federal court at 10 am tomorrow that it will not appeal U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl's Friday ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban, the Associated Press reports:

Skavdahl said his ruling will take effect immediately if the state files paperwork saying it will not appeal.

Same-sex couples can apply for marriage licenses at local county clerk offices, but no licenses can be issued until the state files its notice.

On Friday, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead released an official statement saying it would be futile for the state to appeal the ruling in light of the Ninth Circuit's pro-equality decision on similar same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. 


Wyoming Governor: State Won't Appeal Ruling Striking Down Gay Marriage Ban

Echoing similar sentiments he made during a campaign debate this week, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead released an official statement last night saying that it would be futile for the State of Wyoming to appeal a ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban to a federal appeals court that has just struck down similar bans within the circuit.

MeadMead also said the Attorney General will file a notice saying as such. At that point the stay implemented by U.S. Circuit Judge Scott Skavdahl should be lifted and couples would then be able to marry in the...Equality State.

Mead's full statement:

The State of Utah and the State of Oklahoma defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.  The laws of these states were challenged in the federal courts.  On appeal, in each case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that the laws of Utah and Oklahoma violated the U.S. Constitution.  Utah and Oklahoma appealed these decisions to the United States Supreme Court.  The United States Supreme Court declined to hear these appeals.  Wyoming was not a party to these proceedings and Wyoming’s statute was not challenged.

Wyoming has a statute defining marriage as between a man and a woman.  Unless a statute is challenged and determined to be unconstitutional by a court, it remains in effect.  The Governor has no authority to invalidate a Wyoming statute and has an obligation to defend the laws of Wyoming.

Plaintiffs brought an action in the federal District Court for Wyoming, asking the Court to rule Wyoming’s statute also violates the U.S. Constitution.

Flag_wyomingToday, the federal district court has issued a preliminary injunction in the matter of Guzzo v. Mead. This decision allows same-sex couples to marry in Wyoming.  The Attorney General, after reviewing the ruling of the federal district court, has advised that an appeal to the very court that ruled these laws unconstitutional, an opinion that the Supreme Court declined to review, would be unlikely to succeed.

“This result is contrary to my personal beliefs and those of many others.  As in all matters, I respect the role of the courts and the ruling of the Court,” said Governor Mead.

There are complicated legal questions between the state and federal court system.  The plaintiffs have also filed a state court case, which is still active, although any decision by that court would not change the right of same-sex couples to marry.

“While this is not the result I and others would have hoped, I recognize people have different points of view and I hope all citizens agree, we are bound by the law,” said Governor Mead.

The federal court’s order, which will come into effect no later than Thursday, October 23, 2014, at 5:00 p.m., allows same-sex couples to marry in Wyoming. The District Court suspended its order to permit the State of Wyoming to appeal its decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Attorney General will file notice with the court that the State will not appeal before that date.


Federal Judge Strikes Down Wyoming's Gay Marriage Ban

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U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl has struck down the state's gay marriage ban but his ruling has been put on hold until 5 pm Thursday or until the defendants have officially said they will not appeal, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

Earlier today we reported that Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said at a debate last night that the state should not appeal.

NCLR and Wyoming Equality filed suit last week demanding that the state comply with the 10th Circuit ruling handed out earlier this year following the Supreme Court's refusal to hear its appeal.

A hearing was held yesterday.

According to NCLR:

The case was brought by Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples who requested an immediate order directing state officials to comply with two decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit establishing that a state’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry violates the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court on October 6th let those appeals court decisions stand, meaning that all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.

The plaintiff couples are Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, and Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion of Cheyenne, who previously filed a state-court lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s marriage ban. Also joining the lawsuit are Brie Barth and Shelly Montgomery of Carpenter, who attempted to obtain a marriage license in Wyoming after the Supreme Court decision but were refused. Wyoming Equality is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Wyoming’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Its members include same-sex couples across the state. 

Each of the couples wishes to be married in Wyoming or to have their existing marriage respected by the State of Wyoming. The requested order would remain in place while the plaintiffs’ federal case proceeds.

Update: Governor Matt Mead has announced he will not appeal the ruling, saying:

"This result is contrary to my personal beliefs and those of many others.  As in all matters, I respect the role of the courts and the ruling of the Court...While this is not the result I and others would have hoped, I recognize people have different points of view and I hope all citizens agree, we are bound by the law."

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Here's the ruling:

2:14-cv-00200 #44 Wyoming Injunction & Temporary Stay by Equality Case Files


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