A bill aimed at banning gay marriage in
Wyoming has been defeated in the House.
House Joint Resolution 17, also known
as the “Defense of Marriage” resolution, died after an hour of
debate Friday by a vote of 35-25.
Republican Representative Owen Petersen
of Mountain View had sponsored the bill. The bill would have put the
definition of marriage as a heterosexual union to a popular vote. If
approved, the bill would have banned gay marriage by amending the
The state of Wyoming currently bans gay
marriage by law, but opponents say the state remains vulnerable
without a constitutional amendment.
Thirty states have amended
their constitutions to ban gay marriage. Some simply define marriage
as a union between a man and a woman, while others go farther,
explicitly denying any marriage-like recognition, including civil
Focus on the Family Action, the
Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group, had been
criticized for pushing to get the constitutional amendment on the
ballot. In the weeks leading up to the vote, the group began a
telephone lobbying campaign which encouraged voters to call lawmakers
to support the anti-gay bill.
The newly formed WyWatch Family
institute also supported the bill. The group is closely associated
with Focus on the Family and the Arizona-based conservative Christian
legal group the Alliance Defense Fund.
“We're trying to protect the
children, because when you have a same-sex marriage, you're denying
that child either a mother or a father,” WyWatch Chairwoman Becky
Vandeberghe told the Associated Press prior
to the vote. “And the family unit is very, very precious to
us, and we want to make sure that every child has that.”
Vandeberghe called the defeat a “grave
Gay groups hailed the vote. “We are
grateful that the Wyoming House of Representatives stood up for
equality and refused to write discrimination in the state
Constitution,” said Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights
Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights advocacy group.
Legislators in Indiana have proposed a
similar measure. But the bill would need to pass through two
legislative sessions before arriving at the ballot box in November of