Wyoming Couples Sue for Marriage Equality

Four couples and the statewide group Wyoming Equality filed the suit in a state court Wednesday.

BY Trudy Ring

March 06 2014 4:46 PM ET

Four same-sex couples and Wyoming Equality have filed a lawsuit challenging Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The suit, filed Wednesday in a state court in Cheyenne, argues that the Wyoming statute barring same-sex couples from marrying, and the state’s refusal to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally wed elsewhere violate the Wyoming constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process, according to a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs along with two private attorneys. Wyoming’s ban is not written into the state's constitution.

The couples are Cora Courage and Wyoma “Nonie” Proffit, who were married in Iowa in 2009; Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston, who were married in Canada in 2010; Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson; and Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion. The latter two couples were denied marriage licenses by the Laramie County clerk’s office February 27. Wyoming Equality is a statewide LGBT rights organization.

In the press release, Courage, who is clinical director at the state psychiatric hospital and a major in the Army Reserve, said, “As a member of the military, having the federal government recognize our marriage was a huge step forward, but Wyoming’s refusal to do the same has left our family without critical legal protections that many married couples are able to take for granted.”

Added Guzzo, a University of Wyoming professor: “I love Wyoming. This state has always been my home; even when I left for graduate school, I knew that I would come back. And as much as I love this state, it is frustrating to live in the ‘Equality State’ and to be treated differently by the government because of who I love. It scares me that in times of crisis we will have to rely on the kindness of strangers to respect our relationship because the state of Wyoming will not let Bonnie and me share in the responsibilities and protections of marriage. I look forward to the day that we will be able to marry before our family and friends in the state we call home.”

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