Two same-sex marriage/civil union bills introduced by the state’s only openly gay legislator are receiving bipartisan support.

Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, is sponsoring House Bill 169, which defines marriage as a civil contract between “two natural persons,” rather than between a man and a woman, as the state statute now reads.

Connolly is also sponsoring House Bill 168, which broadens domestic partnerships.

“This bill allows same-sex couples to register into a domestic partnership, where they are allowed the same rights as spouses,” she said.

The bill replaces the word “spouse” in state statutes with the phrase “domestic partnership.” Although minors can get married, they are not allowed to enter a domestic partnership, the bill says.

The bill separates domestic partnership from religion because the registration and filing is done with the county clerk rather than by clergy.

“It’s fine for same-sex couples to go to their churches, but they don’t get registered or officiated with a minister or rabbi,” Connolly said.

Connolly said other states have found that a domestic partnership, which joins the incomes of couples for any government means testing, saves the state money through lower welfare payments.

Connolly’s bill makes it a felony for anyone to enter more than one domestic partnership if the person knows the other party is alive.

The penalty is five to nine years in prison and a $5,000 fine, or both.

The two bills have been introduced but have not yet been assigned to a committee.

Bipartisan support

Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, is a co-sponsor of both bills. She cited Section 2, Article 1 of the Wyoming Constitution, which reads: “In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.”

She also cited a second section that prohibits arbitrary power.

Those two sections do not say, “All people except those who believe differently than I do,” Wallis said.

“Basically, I don’t think it’s any of the government’s business, and we as a Legislature should not be inhibiting the liberty of other free people,” Wallis said.

According to the Jackson Hole Daily, GOP Reps. Keith Gingery and Ruth Ann Petroff of Jackson are also in support of Connolly’s two bills.

“It’s a basic human rights and fairness issue,” Petroff told the Daily. “It’s a basic constitutional issue. There should just be no reason why same-sex couples shouldn’t have the same rights as everyone else.”

Gingery said the number of gay couples is increasing and their rights aren’t clear under current state law. He said allowing gay marriage would be the best solution because it plugs gay marriage into the state’s existing legal framework for marriage.

Lawmakers have considered bills allowing gay unions three times since 2007, but none of them passed.

Last year, legislators considered but ultimately rejected a bill barring recognition of out-of-state, same-sex marriages.

It’s the first time Gingery has backed a gay marriage proposal, and he thinks the measures could have a chance of passing this year.

He told the Daily there are a number of new lawmakers, many of whom know gay couples.

“It’s hard for anyone to be against gay marriage when there’s a face to it and that face is a friend or relative,” he said.

The bills would have to win approval from both the state House and Senate in order to be able to advance to the governor’s desk for signing.

Anti-discrimination bill

Connolly also is a co-sponsor to an anti-discrimination bill sponsored by Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie.

The bill would add sexual orientation or gender identification to the state’s anti-discrimination statutes.

In the past, Connolly said, legislators heard testimony by people involved in enforcing fair employment practice laws who said they had to turn people away who claimed discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

“It’s egregious, egregious action,” Connolly said.

“We want economic development in this state with high-end companies with high-end jobs,” Connolly said. “And these companies not only want good roads and broadband and high-quality education, they want anti-discrimination laws.

“They don’t want their gay and lesbian employees discriminated against in the community.”

The bill was introduced Wednesday. The last day for legislators to submit their bills to the Legislative Service Office is Jan. 28.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or

(9) comments

Comment deleted.

Lord help us. We cannot do it alone. Let your will, not ours, be done. Amen.

Cowboy Joe
Cowboy Joe

I think and sincerely hope that a majority of folks don't have such views as those espoused here. Gay marriage will not impact my relationship, nor will it damage my children, to the contrary peace, love and equality will make our great state even better.


Well said.


Blessed be, Wyoming is called the "Equality State," and I truly think it is time that we, as a State step up and into the 21st century. I think Cathy Connelly should be Governor of our State next. We are last in population and 5th in domestic (gay and lesbian) couples living together. We aren't going away and deserve the same rights as everyone else. It will be a fantastic day when this passes.

conservation know it all
conservation know it all

So you' re saying that Wyoming has more gay/lesbian couples in overall numbers than all but 4 other states.


My guess would be that it is per capita. Total numbers would be impossible for a state so small.

conservation know it all
conservation know it all

Yea, no kidding, the entire state would be gay.


Yep. We are in the 21st century all right.

We can now kill our babies, take other peoples' money, lie, cheat, steal, let child molesters and rapists wander free, sue schools for having banners that mention God, and have sex with whomever we want, and the list goes on and on, and we do not feel accountable to anyone.

Sad times, indeed.


What saddens me is our nation's turning away from God.

What is happening in our country is now creeping into our state.

Romans 1:20-24

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other.

I have nothing more. God says it best.

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