Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wyoming Might Be the Next Marriage Equality Battle

Today two gay men, David-Shupe Roderick and Ryan W. Dupree filed a federal lawsuit aimed at eliminating the one-man one-woman marriage law Wyoming. Interestingly enough, Wyoming is one of the few states in the nation that does not have a constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman; though such a amendment has been brought before the legislature it has failed to gain enough votes to be sent to the people for ratification.  The Mercury News Reports...
A gay couple has filed a federal lawsuit in Cheyenne challenging the Wyoming law that defines marriage as existing only between a man and a woman.
David Shupe-Roderick, 25, and Ryan W. Dupree, 21,—who are representing themselves in court, although neither is a lawyer—said the Laramie County Clerk's Office refused to issue them a marriage license on Aug. 9.
They are asking U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson to block Wyoming from enforcing any laws that block gays and lesbians from access to civil marriage.
"I've tried to kind of not rock the boat, so to speak, but there comes a time in everyone's life when there are things that are wrong and you have a moral duty to stand up and you have to advocate for what's right," Shupe-Roderick said Tuesday. "I think Ryan and I agree that this is something that is wrong, and it's something that needs to be changed."
However, Laramie County Clerk Debbye Balcaen Lathrop said she never met with Shupe-Roderick or Dupree on the issue and could find no one in her office who knows anything about denying a marriage license to the men.
"We're totally in the dark about this," Balcaen Lathrop said, adding she didn't know how her office would respond if it received such an application. It hasn't happened in the nearly 16 years she's been in office, she said.
The lawsuit was filed a week after a federal judge in California overturned that state's gay marriage ban, a case that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Leigh Anne Manlove, spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the administration intends to defend Wyoming's law vigorously but he couldn't comment beyond that because the case is in court.
Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg said Tuesday he hadn't reviewed the lawsuit and couldn't comment.
Existing Wyoming law says that only marriages between a man and a woman may be conducted in the state. However, the state currently must recognize marriages performed in other states, some of which allow same-sex marriages and civil unions.
Though I am happy whenever a lawsuit is filed on behalf of gay marriage, I feel as though this particular lawsuit is going to be handily defeated. Not meaning to belittle the plaintiffs in this case, but to go at it alone, without any sort of legal backup against a trained legal team from the Attorney Generals office, is very very foolish. I feel as though the plaintiffs, most likely having watched the situation in California and seeing the masterful arguments and logic of Boies and Olson, feel as though they might be able to duplicate these arguments and logic. Though this case will be an interesting one to watch, I fear that the plaintiffs hubris and lack of foresight in this case will be its undoing. 

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