Thursday, February 24, 2011
The conference committee offers its “compromise” on equality
The conference committee on House Bill 74 – Validity of marriage will present a report to the Senate and the House on Friday that says there will be no compromise over civil unions.
Same-sex unions, regardless of whether they are legal in their state of origin, will NOT be recognized in Wyoming if the committee’s report is adopted.
The conference committee, which included Reps. Amy Edmonds (R-HD12, Cheyenne), Kendall Kroeker (R-HD 35, Casper) and Jim Roscoe (D-HD22, Wilson) and Sens. Floyd Esquibel, (D-SD8, Cheyenne), Larry Hicks (R-SD11, Baggs) and Leslie Nutting (R-SD7, Cheyenne), voted 4-2 to strip a Senate amendment aimed at recognizing same-sex civil unions made in other states. Roscoe and Esquibel opposed the committee proposal.
"We're just digging ourselves further into a quagmire," Esquibel said to explain his opposition to what he considers a bad bill.
Instead, the conference committee will ask the House and Senate to adopt an amendment that makes clear that Wyoming will recognize any marriage or civil union between two people legally made anywhere so long as those marriages and unions are between one man and one woman.
Here’s the Senate amendment the committee stripped from the bill. It would rest under statute number 20-1-111 Out of state marriages.:
"(c) Parties to a domestic or other legal civil union lawfully entered into in another state, commonwealth, territory, district or possession of the United States or a foreign nation, which are not recognized as a marriage under the laws of Wyoming, shall be entitled to access to the courts of the state for the purposes or resolving disputes that arise out of their domestic or other legal civil union.".
The committee instead proposes this language:
“(c) Parties to a marriage or other legal civil union lawfully entered into in another state, commonwealth, territory, district or possession of the United States or a foreign nation, which is recognized as a valid marriage or other legal civil union under subsections (a) or (b) of this section, shall be entitled access to the courts of the state of Wyoming for the purposes of resolving disputes that arise out of their marriage or other legal civil union.”
Both sections (a) and (b) stipulate that marriage contracts are valid “provided that such marriage contracts are between a male and a female person.”
Neither section refers to civil unions.
Since the Senate passed the bill relying upon the idea that state law would recognize legal civil unions made outside Wyoming, the conference committee recommendation may not win majority support in that chamber.
Please act now
The ESPC urges Wyomingites to write their state senators to vote to reject the conference committee report. The bill clearly discriminates against many people who live in Wyoming who have secured legal marriage contracts or civil unions in other states or countries. Please tell your senator to vote NO against the conference report.
While you’re at it, please contact your state representative and likewise ask them to reject this discriminatory legislation.
Wyoming should live up to its motto as the Equality State.
Citizens can register their opposition to HB 74 by using the “Online Hotline” or the telephone Hotline – 1-866-966-8683 or, in Cheyenne, 777-8683.
Note on the photo
That's the committee in the photo. From left, Sen. Floyd Esquibel, Rep. Kendall Kroeker, Co-Chairman Rep. Amy Edmonds, Co-Chairman Sen. Larry Hicks, Sen. Leslie Nutting, Rep. Jim Roscoe.