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Wyoming House defeats gay marriage bills

Wyoming House defeats gay marriage bills

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The Wyoming House defeated contrasting gay marriage bills Thursday.

House Bill 87, sponsored by Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, would have changed state law that says marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. Under the revised definition, marriage would be a contract between two natural persons.

Connolly, who is openly gay, said there are 12,877 gay people in Wyoming. On a personal note, she said she’s lived in Wyoming for two decades and has chosen to raise her son here.

“If I want to get married to the woman that I love, I want to do it here,” she said.

Rep. Mark Baker, R-Rock Springs, argued against HB87, reminding members of the House that they killed the bill last year. He suggested the issue be brought before voters.

"We cannot legislate such a colossal change in societies’ families, lives, jobs and religions from a glass bowl," he said.

The Wyoming House may not have the appetite to debate social issues, because it also defeated HB108, which would have allowed the state not to recognize gay marriages performed outside the state.

This year’s session is dedicated to balancing the state’s approximately $3 billion budget, and the House has been defeating many bills that have nothing to do with the budget.

Supporters of HB108 said the bill would eliminate confusion in Wyoming’s courts when gay couples married outside Wyoming sought divorces.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, argued passionately against the bill.

“This morning, 43 of you denied a member in this body the right to marry the woman she loves,” he said, referring to Connolly. “Please, don't make the Equality State take a step back."

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

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