By Chris Huqueriza
Wyoming’s state House Corporations Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voted on two bills this week. The first, a bill to permit gay marriage, was denied 5-4. The second, a bill to legalize domestic partnerships, was approved 7-2. The decision was reached on Monday after a two-hour hearing.
Wyoming is nicknamed the Equality State, but with this latest vote, legislators have fallen behind the trend in favor of equality for all. The challengers of gay marriage cited both morality as well as public health concerns in their arguments against the legislation.
Some of the arguments heard were unfounded research linking homosexuality to higher cancer rates and testimonials of childhood sexual abuse heard by “former LGBT advocate/lesbian” Robin Goodspeed.
“I chose to have sex with women. There were dire consequences for that,” said Goodspeed.
African-American Republican Lynn Hutchings (R-Cheyenne) spoke against gay marriage and argued that there should be no comparison between racial equality and the fight for LGBT equality, telling LGBT advocates to “stop carpet-bagging on our civil rights movement.” She believes the comparison fails because people “choose to be gay.”
“Homosexual behavior is harmful to the mind, body and spirit,” said Hutchings, whose ex-fiancé claimed to have converted his own sexuality from gay to straight.
The state’s only openly gay elected official, Rep. Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie), led the arguments in support of the gay marriage legislation. She cited its importance regarding end-of-life care and medical decisions for gay couples.
“We are better individually and collectively when the ones we love are protected,” Connolly said.
Sen. Bruce Burns (R-Sheridan), who co-sponsored the domestic partnership bill, rejected the idea that the legislation was meant to be pro-LGBT. He argued instead that the bill allows extensions of co-habitation amongst heterosexual couples and others who co-habitate, citing the example of his his aunt who has shared a house with another woman in a “platonic relationship” for more than three decades.
Gov. Matt Mead (R) adds that the domestic partnership legislations has a better chance of passing through the state than the gay marriage bill.
“I wanted to publicly thank Rep. Connolly,” said Pro-LGBT, Rep Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne). “I can’t believe how unimaginably horrible it would be to sit next to someone being that downright insulting. For you to sit through that, I can’t believe how hard that would be.”