The Equality State is about to live up to its name, after Wyoming's Republican leadership announced today it will not appeal a federal judge's Friday decision requiring the state to begin performing and recognizing same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples will be able to marry in Wyoming immediately after the state formally files its notice with the court Tuesday morning.
Wyoming attorney general Peter K. Michael plans to inform the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming Tuesday at 10 a.m. that his office, also representing Gov. Matthew Mead, does not plan to appeal U.S. District Judge Scott Skvdahl's Friday ruling in favor of marriage equality, reports Cheyenne's KGWN TV.
After Michael's office files its formal notice that the state will no longer defend its ban on same-sex marriage, Skavdahl's ruling will take effect immediately, bringing marriage equality to Wyoming. Skavdahl had placed a hold on his Friday ruling until this Thursday, or until state officials stopped defending the existing marriage law.
The attorney general pointed not only to Skavdahl's ruling but to the recent avalanche of pro-equality decisions, including two from Oklahoma and Utah that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand earlier this month. By refusing to review those decisions, the Supreme Court effectively made the lower courts' rulings legally binding in all states in the 10th Circuit, which includes Wyoming.
"Judge Skavdahl's opinion and order make clear that the decisions in Utah and Oklahoma have left Wyoming with few legal options," said Michael, according to KGWN. "After reviewing the law and the Judge's decision that binding precedent requires recognition of same-sex marriage, I have concluded that further legal process will result in delay but not a different result."
Michael's conclusion echoes that of his fellow Republican attorney general in nearby Arizona, who said that given the now-binding legal precedent in the district, it was "unethical" to continue defending the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples began marrying in Arizona Friday.
Once Michael's office files its notice, county clerks throughout the state will be required to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples who apply, regardless of the gender of either partner. The state will also be required to recognize the legal marriage of any same-sex couples married outside the state while that couple is in Wyoming.
Barring further breaking marriage equality news, Wyoming will become the 32nd U.S. State, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples can marry.