Same sex marriage (SSM) and civil unions
In Wyoming, the "Equality State"
The acronym "SSM" means same-sex marriage.
Wyoming is one of the few states in Northern U.S. that does not have a hate-crimes law. The crucifixion and subsequent death of Matthew Shepard near Laramie WY on 1998-OCT-12 helped inspire the federal hate-crimes law: the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" (commonly referred to as the Matthew Shepard Act). However, it seems to have done little to inspire hate-crimes legislation in Wyoming.
Wyoming statutes specify that only one man and one woman can marry in the state. However, the marriage act may be vulnerable to a 2004 court challenge launched by same-sex couples who want to get married in the state, or who have already married out-of-state and want Wyoming to recognize their married status. The current marriage statutes may be in violation up to three equality sections of the Wyoming constitution.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of legislative activity: bills were introduced, committee hearings held, passionate debate conducted in the Senate and House, etc. However as of early 2014-MAR, none have succeeded in changing any laws or in amending the state Constitution. The public has a very strong tradition of respect for individual freedom and for minimal government interference in people's lives. There are also strong conservative social and religious traditions which value intense discrimination against sexual minorities. These two traditions are in conflict when it comes to same-sex marriage. The result seems to be a deep division between pro-equality and anti-LGBT elements in the Legislature, resulting in a series of stalemates:
The population of Wyoming is a little over a half million; it has the smallest population of any U.S. state. If SSM is legalized there, the percentage of Americans who live in a state that permits SSMs will rise by less than 0.2%. Still, it would increase the percentage of states that allows SSM by a full 2%.
Topics covered in this section:
First posted: 2009-FEB-10
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