Guzzo v. Mead
The Path to Victory:
On October 17, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Wyoming in a federal legal case that challenged the state’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment. The ruling came with a stay on the order, set to expire when the state of Wyoming filed notice of whether or not they would appeal.
On October 21 at 10:00am, Wyoming Governor Mead will announce officially that the state will not appeal the marriage ruling, clearing the way for same-sex couples to begin marrying in Wyoming.
The ruling came just ten days after the case was filed on October 7, 2014 by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Wyoming Equality. The filing came just one day after the United States Supreme Court denied review of two federal legal cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Oklahoma and Utah is unconstitutional. Because Wyoming is also in the 10th Circuit, the ruling created a binding precedent throughout the circuit, including in Wyoming.
The couples include Brie Barth and Shelly Montgomery of Carpenter, who on October 7 applied for a marriage license at the Laramie County Clerk. Though they were denied the license, lawyers filed a motion for the Laramie County Court to immediately rule as to when clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Joining Beth and Shelly in the lawsuit are Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion of Cheyenne, all of whom previously filed a case in state court challenging Wyoming’s marriage ban.
NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter explained upon the filing, "With the Tenth Circuit’s decision now final and binding, there is no longer any legal basis for the State of Wyoming to continue to enforce its marriage ban, which serves only to harm and stigmatize one group of Wyoming families. All families deserve equal respect and protection, including same-sex couples and their children."
And Jeran Artery, Executive Director of Wyoming Equality, added: "The Tenth Circuit has decided that the U.S. Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the freedom to marry, and the Supreme Court’s decision to let that ruling stand means that the Tenth Circuit’s decision is also the law in our state. Wyoming’s same-sex couples deserve to have their state treat them as it would treat any other family, and they deserve that freedom immediately."
Courage v. Wyoming
On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied review of two federal legal cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry in Oklahoma and Utah is unconstitutional. Because Wyoming is also in the 10th Circuit, the ruling created a binding precedent throughout the circuit, including in Wyoming. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to deny review, same-sex couples sought judgment in this state case seeking the freedom to marry so that judgment could be issued and the freedom to marry could come to Wyoming.
Before a judgment could be issued, a federal judge ruled in a separate but related case, Guzzo v. Mead (see above).
On March 5, 2014, the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry or respect for marriages legally performed in other states.
The plaintiffs include two same-sex couples who are legally married, two who wish to marry in Wyoming, and the state's largest organization dedicated to working toward equality for all LGBT people in the state, Wyoming Equality.
The couples include Cora Courage and Wyoma “Nonie” Proffit, who work as a Major in the Army Reserve and a part-time sheepherder, respectively, and married in Iowa in 2009; Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston, who have been together for 16 years and married four years ago in Canada; Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson, who are unmarried but have been together for more than 4 years; and Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion, an attorney and real estate developer, respectively, from Cheyenne.