CHEYENNE -- In a reversal after several unsuccessful attempts in previous years, the Wyoming House passed legislation Monday to stop recognition of out-of-state gay marriages and civil unions.
House Bill 74 now heads to the Senate, where its chances for passage appear good.
State Rep. Owen Petersen, R-Mountain View, the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is needed to resolve a conflict in Wyoming law, which defines marriage as a contract "between a male and a female person" but also recognizes any valid marriage performed outside the state. Other supporters have said the bill will help to hold back government intrusion into Wyoming traditions and culture.
Opponents said the bill is unnecessary, violates the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, and would create havoc for legally married out-of-state gay couples traveling in Wyoming.
The Wyoming House has voted down similar legislation twice in recent years. But with many past opponents retiring or voted out of office in November, the bill passed the House 32-27. State Rep. Patrick Goggles, D-Ethete, was excused from voting.