The first pro-gay legislation that has reached Wyoming's House floor for debate was defeated Wednesday as the House voted 35-24 to reject a domestic partnership bill that would have given same-sex couples in the state the opportunity to gain most of the legal rights of marriage,
Opponents warned that the bill threatened to open the state to legal action seeking to force it to approve same-sex marriage.
Rep. Mark Baker, R-Rock Springs, spoke against the measure, saying: "We all know that this is about same-sex marriage and civil unions." Baker also contended gays and lesbians have particular health issues, and said approving the bill would increase health care costs.
"The fact of the matter is that this is something that's pushed on us to be politically correct. 'Let's be the Equality State,'" Baker said, mimicking bill supporters. "The fact of the matter is that there are disastrous consequences to this bill."
Jason Marsden, director of the Denver-based Matthew Shepard Foundation, said the vote was disappointing. He said the bill had offered the Legislature a chance to sidestep the issues of religion, marriage and social tradition while still recognizing that there are thousands of gay people in the state. "These families are going to live and grow up and die in the absence of meaningful legal protection for their families," Marsden said.