(Casper, WY, October 16, 2014)—Today, U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl of the District of Wyoming heard argument in the 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. Judge Skavdahl said that he will issue his ruling by 5:00 PM, Monday, October 20th.
The case was brought by Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples who requested 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. The U.S. Supreme Court on October 6th let those appeals court decisions stand, meaning that all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.
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 across the state.
Each of the couples wishes to be married in Wyoming or to have their existing marriage respected by the State of Wyoming. The requested order would remain in place while the plaintiffs’ federal case proceeds.
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: “We are grateful that the court has moved quickly in handling our case, which affects so many families across Wyoming who are seeking equal dignity and full legal recognition. We are confident that the judge will give this important case the consideration it deserves, and we look forward to the court’s decision.”
Said NCLR Senior Staff Attorney Chris Stoll: “The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. The State of Wyoming is obligated to follow the law as interpreted by the Tenth Circuit. We are pleased that the court will rule by Monday and hope that it will allow all Wyoming couples to begin enjoying the security, respect, and protection that marriage provides as soon as possible.”