Friday, February 6, 2009
One small step in one conservative state
February 6, 2009
Greetings from Wyoming,
Friends, we are still the Equality State! After a week of up and down actions and emotions, the House of Representatives defeated the Defense of Marriage Amendment in the Committee of the Whole in a resounding 35 to 25 vote earlier today.
The week began on Monday when the House Judiciary Committee voted 5 to 4 to pass on to the House floor a bill to add “Sexual Orientation” to all the present laws of Wyoming that list group[s] to be protected under the law. That now seems to be buried on the Speaker's desk waiting to see if it will come to a vote.
Tuesday dawned early as the House Judicial Committee met to consider the Defense of Marriage Amendment (DOMA). The room and the hall outside was full of people to testify on both sides of the issue. “WY Watch” an arm or close associate of Focus on the Family was there in force including an imported lawyer, to tell us all how we must define in our Constitution that marriage is the union between one man and one woman. After 6 ½ hours of testimony ranging in three segments from 8:00 AM to 6”30 PM the committee voted 5 to 4 in favor of passing the resolution on to the House with a Do Pass recommendation.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent in building opposition to the bill and enlisting allies to lobby against this resolution. These, again, were long days of talking and talking and talking to representative and getting information together for our allies on the floor. The work was being done to prepare for the third reading of the bill when it had to have 2/3 majority of the house to pass. The expectation was that yesterday or today the resolution would be brought to the committee of the whole reading and would pass. Our hopes were pinned on that third reading vote.
This morning the resolution came up for a vote in the House, Committee of the ‘Whole. There were two Representatives who spoke in favor of the Resolution and six or seven who spoke against it, including one I had talked with and who felt it would best be served by going to the people for their vote. He spoke against the resolution and voted against it. And after a voice vote, a stand up count of votes and a roll call, the House voted the resolution down by a vote of 35 against—20 for. I was stunned as were my friends in the gallery.
My friends who spoke out against this resolution felt vindicated and appreciated once more as we realized we are not the bad guys we were painted as by those in favor of this DOMA Resolution. All of us at Wyoming Equality are thankful for our friends in and out of Wyoming who have been there for us as we have worked so hard to defeat this resolution. LGBT folks and our allies (of which there are so many) are grateful for all the work that has gone into this effort; the calls, the letters, the emails, the talking to folks, and the hours of leg work. We are especially thankful for all those Representatives who supported us throughout this time and especially in the vote this morning.
Social Change Coordinator