A Wyoming gay couple who were going it
alone in challenging the state's law that bans gay marriage abruptly
dropped their challenge on Friday, the AP reported.
David Shupe-Roderick, 25, and Ryan W.
Dupree, 21, filed their challenge on August 13 after claiming that
the Laramie County Clerk's Office refused three times to issue them a
marriage license. A claim the county's clerk, Debbie Lathrop, a
defendant in the case, has denied.
The two men said they were representing
themselves because they could not afford to hire an attorney.
“I kind of know some about the law,
and I know how to research things,” Shupe-Roderick told the Casper
Star Tribune. “If I have to do this on my own, I will, because
it's a cause I believe in.”
The couple was asking U.S. District
Judge Alan B. Johnson to declare Wyoming's law defining marriage as a
contract “between a male and a female person” unconstitutional.
But several Wyoming gay rights
activists decried the move, saying the increased visibility of the
case would jeopardize years of hard work on other gay rights
initiatives, including a gay protections law.
Activists also worried that the men
were not an ideal couple. Shupe-Roderick served four years in the
Wyoming State Penitentiary for driving off in a rented car.
Authorities retrieved the car in Arkansas. Shupe-Roderick also has a
history of litigation. He's filed five other lawsuits in the past
The social conservative group WyWatch
Family Action, which supports putting a constitutional amendment
banning gay marriage in the Wyoming Constitution, said the aborted
lawsuit served as “a wake up call.”
The group's Becky Vandeberghe said the
challenge had raised awareness and support for the constitutional
“It has raised awareness of the issue
in the political world, as far as elections and where candidates
stand,” she said.
A 2008 WyWatch Family Action
commissioned poll of 509 registered voters found a large majority
(74%) of respondents support a constitutional amendment banning gay
marriage. However, the poll relied heavily on the opinions of
registered Republicans, who, on average, are more likely to oppose
marriage equality. According to a New York Times poll, 63
percent of Wyomingites oppose gay marriage.