Gay and lesbian couples can begin
marrying in Wyoming on Tuesday morning.
Citing cases out of the Tenth District
Court of Appeals which struck down restrictive state marriage bans in
Utah and Oklahoma, U.S. District Judge Scott W. Skavdahl on Friday
declared Wyoming's ban unconstitutional.
In his 16-page ruling, Skavdahl said
the “preferred forum” for addressing whether gay couples should
be allowed to marry is the “arena of public debate and legislative
“However, that ship has sailed,” he
added. “It is not the desire or preference of this Court to,
with the stroke of a pen, erase a State's legislative enactments.
Nonetheless, the binding precedent of Kitchen and Bishop
mandate this result, and this Court will adhere to its Constitutional
duties and abide by the rule of law.”
Skavdahl temporarily stayed his ruling
until Thursday, October 23 or until defendants file notice that they
will not appeal.
Republican Governor Matt Mead said
Friday that he disagrees with the decision but that his
administration is “bound by law” to implement it.
Officials said Monday that they will
file such a notice with the court. As a result, gay couples can
start exchanging vows at 10 AM on Tuesday.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) and Wyoming Equality is representing four gay couples in the
lawsuit argued Thursday.
“Starting tomorrow, all Wyoming
families will finally be able to share in the security and protection
that marriage provides,” Christopher F. Stoll, senior staff
attorney for NCLR, said in a statement. “Wyoming’s same-sex
couples will benefit in countless ways from having their
relationships recognized and respected by the state, and their
children will have the security of growing up with parents who are
married. We thank the Wyoming couples who courageously stood up to
bring this case so that all Wyoming families can enjoy the freedom to