The Freedom to Marry in Wyoming
Winning Marriage: October 21, 2014
Same-sex couples began marrying in Wyoming on October 21, 2014 after U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in a federal legal case challenging the state’s anti-marriage laws. The ruling followed the United States Supreme Court’s October 6, 2014 decision to deny review of a pro-marriage order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
History and the Path to Victory:
- 1977: The Wyoming legislature passes a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples. A similar statute is passed again in 2003.
- 1977-2013: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Wyoming take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families. Their work shows signs of progress again and again, as anti-gay efforts to amend the Constitution with an anti-marriage amendment fail several times.
- April 2012: Polling in Wyoming tracks a marked growth in support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters. By November 2014, one month after welcoming the freedom to marry to their state, a poll finds that a strong majority of Wyomingites support marriage for same-sex couples.
- March 17, 2014: Across the Equality State, same-sex couples and their supporters come together to form Wyoming Unites for Marriage, the broad-based coalition and public education campaign dedicated to winning marriage for same-sex couples in Wyoming. Just one week prior, same-sex couples, Wyoming Equality and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a legal case in state court seeking the freedom to marry, Courage v. Wyoming. Read the initial complaint.
- October 6, 2014: The United States Supreme Court denies review of a pro-marriage ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, making that ruling binding precedent across the circuit, including in Wyoming.
- October 7, 2014: In response to the 10th Circuit decision taking effect, same-sex couples, Wyoming Equality, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights file a renewed legal case – Guzzo v. Meade – to implement the ruling in Wyoming. Read the initial complaint.
- October 17, 2014: U.S. District Court Judge Scott Skavadhl rules in favor of the freedom to marry in Guzzo v. Meade. On the same day, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says that he will not appeal the decision. Read the ruling.
- October 21, 2014: The freedom to marry takes effect in Wyoming and same-sex couples begin marrying statewide.
- June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.
Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage
- Wyoming Unites for Marriage was the grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Wyoming.
- Wyoming Equality is Wyoming's central organization connecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Wyoming Equality served as a plaintiff in both marriage legal cases in 2014.
- The National Center for Lesbian Rights works to bring civil rights to all families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. NCLR served as counsel in both marriage legal cases in 2014.
- Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.