Hawaii Gets Gay Civil Unions While Wyoming Lawmakers Aim for Inequality State Status

In Wyoming, “The Equality State,” on Wednesday, HB 74 passed its first reading in the senate. HB74 would void out-of-state marriages and civil unions between same sex couples.

Opponents say Senate Joint Resolution 5, which would change the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, needs to be passed in order for HB74 to even be constitutional.

Supporters of HB74 say HB 74 wouldn’t prevent same-sex couples from getting SOME of the assorted rights/benefits granted to people who were not born this way and therefore married each other in a heterosexual ceremony of some sort. Although these “supporters” recognize that obtaining said benefits is a “slow and cumbersome” process requiring “numerous court filings,” this is all a-ok because “the bill would result in equal treatment of same-sex couples who are married or civilly joined out of state with those who cannot marry or be civilly joined in Wyoming.”

Let’s repeat that. Keep in mind this is someone ENDORSING HB74.

“… the bill would result in equal treatment of same-sex couples who are married or civilly joined out of state with those who cannot marry or be civilly joined in Wyoming.”

Get that? Inequality for all! YAY!

It’s sort of like going to Disneyworld, where when you enter Disneyworld you join the world of magic and love already enjoyed every day by the lovely cartoon characters who permanently inhabit Adventureland and Fantastyland and so forth.

Except it’s the opposite of that, where when you enter Wyoming you instantly are able to experience the inequality and bigotry enjoyed every day by the lovely humans who inhabit Wyoming!

the sweet smell of inequality in the morning

A Republican named “Cale Case” (hot name right) said that this bill is crazy, and I agree with him:

“We should kill this bill. We should kill it right now. We should kill it because it’s not very well thought out. It has enormous practical implications.”

For starters, forget your ski vacation to Jackson Hole or your class trip to see where The Laramie Project was filmed:

“What about the millions of people that visit Wyoming? That just come for vacation. We’re so proud of our visitors, now we’re going to say all of you visitors who happen to be from another state, when you come across the border, you’re magically not together any more. ‘Poof.’ It’s gone. Don’t get into a car wreck. If you’re in a hospital and you’re dying, and your partner is with you, we’re going to have to call your mother because that’s the nearest relative that we’re going to recognize under Wyoming (law) to make decisions about your life…

We’re actually going to say you have made a commitment to each other, you’ve got this contract that is legal, and you come to Wyoming and it didn’t happen.

Gays and lesbians live and work among us. They’re also soldiers in the military. They’ve been here and talked about their service in Iraq and … now you’re going to deny them the benefits (of marriage of civil unions).”

Furthermore, HB74 would “strip married or civilly joined same-sex couples of the legal rights pertaining to the transfer of property and life insurance benefits.”

Chris Rothfuss, a Democrat from Laramie, Wyoming (birthplace of Matthew Shepard), also spoke out against the bill, because sexual orientation isn’t a choice: “I personally like women. I didn’t make that choice. I never woke up one day or had a moment where I thought to myself, ‘I think I’m going to choose girls.”

Also:

“I would urge each of you to oppose this lousy bill that basically tries to make a statutory inequality not just in the state of Wyoming, but to make sure we’re spreading the inequality nationwide so that anybody who comes here is treated just as unequally as the gays in our state.”

HB74 would also strip rights of people from other countries where plural marriage is legal and of people who got married but forgot to get divorced to their last husband before getting married again.

HOWEVER! There is better news coming to us straight from the Pacific Ocean at the alleged birthplace of Barack Obama — Hawaii lawmakers have approved civil unions for gay couples and Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign it into law. Abercrombie had said throughout his campaign that he supported giving same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities within civil unions as he did for spouses in a marriage. And now he has done so. Hooray! Does anyone know if he also invented Abercrombie & Fitch.

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2782 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. WY seems like a beautiful place that I would like to go to. It sucks that this is taking place.

    I want to go to all these places that seem awesome but are anti-gay. I still go to them. I went to Morocco before and it was one of the best experiences of my life, though women, especially gay women, especially especially masculine women are treated literally worse than dogs. And if I limited myself to only places where gays are accepted, well then, where the hell would I go? The three block radius of the Castro, and that’s the only place on Earth I can go? They don’t even like women there. Anyway, I don’t have the dough to go anywhere right now.

    Also, if the government was completely uninvolved in marriage, and it was a civil agreement between whoever consented to be involved in it, we wouldn’t be having all these problems…

  2. I lived in Wyoming for several years in my teens and I wound up back there to get my undergrad degree at U Wyo and the only thing that surprises me about all this anti-marriage business is that there are members of the state legislature actually speaking out *against* the bill. I mean, other than Cathy Connolly (who was my advisor at UW, btw).

    It’s no coincidence that Matthew Shepard was murdered there. I feared for my safety several times, and not just because of sexual orientation either. There’s a LOT of hostility toward any kind of Otherness you can think of there. I still have a few friends living there and they were genuinely upset when I and the rest of our liberal, queer, and/or non-white friends couldn’t get out of there fast enough. But we were like “Ducks don’t live in the desert! This place is a lost cause! Leave before it kills you.”

    Also, that picture you posted is totally misleading! That’s one of, like, two ponds in the state. Seriously, that is one dry, brown state. Yellowstone is nice, but the rest of the state pretty much looks like this. Actually, for about 9 months out of the year, it really looks more like this. And you’re not guaranteed safe from snow the other 3 months, either. One year it was snowing so hard on the 4th of July we couldn’t set off fireworks.

  3. Okay I know this is kind of a late comment, but I just have to stick up for Jackson a little bit here…

    I agree that most of Wyoming is a ridiculously backwards brown wasteland and that the title of “equality state” is terribly ironic. But there are a few towns that are actually kinda cool. Jackson is in pretty much the only majority Democratic county in the state, and we’re in the mountains right next to Grand Teton National Park (the much lesser- known but way better park south of Yellowstone.) Lander is a pretty close second with the Wind River mountains right outside town.

    So go ahead and come for a visit.

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