Wyoming Couples Sue to Overturn Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Four Wyoming couples sued to overturn the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage a day after former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson and other Republican leaders asked a federal appeals court to throw out bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages and its refusal to recognize marriages of same-sex couples entered into in other states violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Wyoming constitution, according to a copy of the complaint in state court provided by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Today’s filing couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court records in Laramie County.

The couples include a major in the Army Reserve and a part-time librarian and sheepherder who were married in Iowa in 2009, according to the complaint. They seek a court order invalidating laws that prohibit same-sex marriages and recognition of them.

Simpson served in the Wyoming senate from 1965 to 1978 and then in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997. He and former Kansas Senator Nancy Kassebaum are part of a group of “Western Republicans” who filed a brief yesterday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver in support of lawsuits to overturn same-sex marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah.

‘Big Tent’

Twenty Republicans describing themselves as conservatives, moderates and libertarians who embrace the “big tent” beliefs of the party espoused by Ronald Reagan said in yesterday’s filing that the benefits of marriage and social stability of the family unit “are promoted by providing access to civil marriage for same-sex couples.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in 17 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Since the U.S. Supreme Court last year overturned part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and left intact an order striking down California’s gay-marriage ban, states now face a wave of lawsuits in which advocates seek to expand recognition of marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“Governor Mead has not reviewed the complaint at this time,” said Renny MacKay, a spokesman for Wyoming Republican Governor Matt Mead, said in an e-mailed statement. “ He is holding his end of the legislative session news conference tomorrow and will address it then.”

With 563,626 residents according to the 2010 census, Wyoming is the smallest U.S. state by population.

“Governor Mead has not reviewed the complaint at this time. He is holding his end of the legislative session news conference tomorrow and will address it then.

The case is Courage v. Mead, 182-262, Wyoming First Judicial District Court, County of Laramie.

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