Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Press Release

Marriage

Wyoming Federal Court Sets Hearing for Order Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry Immediately

(Casper, WY, October 9, 2014)— On October 16th, U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the District of Wyoming will hold a hearing 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 will consider 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 Monday let those appeals court decisions stand, meaning that all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.

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 plaintiff couples are Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, and 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).

Said Wyoming Equality Executive Director Jeran Artery: “Wyoming’s same-sex couples deserve to have their state treat them as it would treat any other family, and they deserve that freedom immediately. Every passing day inflicts real hardships on couples and their children who are denied legal protection and the dignity of being treated with equality and respect.”

Added NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Chris Stoll: “The Tenth Circuit’s decision requires the State of Wyoming to treat same-sex couples and their children with the same respect as other families by providing them with access to the important protections marriage provides. We hope the court will rule quickly and will allow Wyoming families to enjoy these protections as soon as possible.”

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM MT at the Ewing T. Kerr Federal Building, Courtroom 2, 111 South Wolcott St. Casper, WY 82601-2534

Learn more about the case.

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org

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