The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that denies recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions performed in other states. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington DC. Several states, such as New Mexico and Maryland, recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.
If it passes the Senate, HB 74 would not allow Wyoming to recognize marriages or civil unions between same-sex couples performed out of state, including foreign countries. Proponents of the bill said it is about protecting children, sticking to Wyoming tradition, and applying state law equally to all same-sex couples.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Owen Peterson, R-Mountain View, said HB 74 would uphold the tradition in Wyoming that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Rep. Bob Brechtel, R-Casper, said HB 74 is not about discriminating against gays and lesbians, but about protecting children. “The state has a vested interest in the rearing of children,” he said. “Studies tend to show that children do develop best in the setting of a mom and a dad.” Opponents of the bill claim it is institutionalized discrimination, violates the right to enter into contracts, and is misleading because it goes beyond defining marriage to include legal civil unions.