Case Summary & History
Case: Guzzo v. Meade
STATUS: Victory, Wyoming
On October 16, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the District of Wyoming will heard argument in a federal court challenge to the State of Wyoming’s refusal to permit same-sex couples to marry and to respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states.
At the hearing, the court considered a request by four same-sex couples and Wyoming Equality, who are the plaintiffs in the case, for an immediate order directing state officials to comply with two decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit establishing that a state’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection. The U.S. Supreme Court on October 6, 2014 let those appeals court decisions stand, meaning that all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.
On October 17, 2014, Judge Skavdahl ruled in favor of the freedom to marry and granted plaintiffs’ request. On October 21, 2014, state officials announced they would not appeal Judge Skavdahl’s decision, allowing marriages to immediately begin.
Each of the couples wishes to be married in Wyoming or to have their existing marriage respected by the State of Wyoming. The October 16th hearing will consider the couples’ request for an order requiring the state to immediately permit Wyoming same-sex couples to marry and to treat their marriages the same as all other marriages. The requested order would remain in place while the plaintiffs’ federal case proceeds. The court may rule on the plaintiffs’ request at the hearing, or may issue a ruling at a later date.
The couples are Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion of Cheyenne, who previously filed a state-court lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s marriage ban. Also joining the lawsuit are Brie Barth and Shelly Montgomery of Carpenter, who attempted to obtain a marriage license in Wyoming after the Supreme Court decision but were refused. Wyoming Equality is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Wyoming’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Its members include same-sex couples throughout the state.
The four couples and Wyoming Equality are represented by Cheyenne attorney Tracy Zubrod, the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, the law firm of Rathod Mohamedbahi LLC, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.
Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston
Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston, of Casper, have been together for sixteen years and were married in Canada in July 2010. Carl manages a retail store and Rob is the program director for Project ReGain, which teaches skills to people who are recovering from addiction.
Bonnie Robinson and Anne Guzzo
Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson have been together for four years and reside in Laramie. Anne is a professor of music composition and theory at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Bonnie is a property manager.
Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion
Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion have been together for nearly two years and reside in Cheyenne. Ivan is an attorney. Chuck is a comptroller at a local construction and development company.
Brie Barth and Shelly Montgomery
Brie Barth and Shelly Montgomery have been together for more than a year and reside in Carpenter. Brie is an oil field worker. Shelly is a registered nurse. Together, they have six children, ranging from ages 9 to 18.
Wyoming Equality is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Wyoming’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The organization carries out that mission through public education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy with policymakers. Its members include same-sex couples throughout the state.