Wyoming's highest court on Monday
reversed a district court ruling, allowing lesbian couple Paula
Christiansen and Victoria Lee Christiansen to obtain a divorce, the
Casper Star-Tribune reported.
The women married in 2008 in nearby
Canada, the first country in the Americas to legalize gay marriage
three years earlier.
The women were denied a divorce last
year by District Judge Keith Kautz. He dismissed the couple's
divorce petition for lack of jurisdiction.
In their unanimous decision, the
five-judge panel categorized the legal marriages of gay and lesbian
couples as common-law marriages for the limited purpose of divorce.
The opinion, written by Justice Michael Golden, stressed that the
court was not recognizing the right of gay couples to marry in the
“Nothing in this opinion should be
take as applying to the recognition of same-sex marriages legally
solemnized in a foreign jurisdiction in any context other than
divorce,” Golden wrote.
“The question of recognition of such
same-sex marriages for any other reason, being not properly before
us, is left for another day,” he added.
Proponents of a constitutional
amendment that would ban gay marriage objected to the ruling.
“Now the Wyoming Supreme Court did
exactly what we predicted it would do starting in 2009 – define
marriage in Wyoming,” said Becky Vanderberghe, president of
WyWatch. (Related: Vanderberghe
laments 2009 defeat of gay marriage ban bill.)