Friday, February 23, 2007

Wyoming Redeems Itself

Okay, Wyoming got it right, by one legislative committee vote in a tie-breaker. That's representative democracy at its best, right?

I confess to ragging Wyoming about its almost certainly un-U.S.-constitutional effort to void Massachusetts same-sex marriages for anyone that moved into that state, a.k.a. The Equality State. Note here that push came to shove and they didn't do it.

The House Rules Committee found the bill (SF0013) on its agenda. According to the Wyoming Capital Outlook, it promised to be nasty. Anti-marriage-equality legislators "said they were defending 'traditional family values,' and straightening out some contradictions in Wyoming’s law, which describes marriage as between a man and a woman, but also recognizes marriages from other states, which in the case of Massachusetts might include same-sex unions."

There was also emotion from other sides. For example:
Several citizens and legislators defended the rights of gay couples. Rep. Pat Childers (R-Cody) spoke proudly of his gay daughter, "who was born that way," and Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) said that his study of American history revealed an ongoing extension of liberties and freedoms, "and if it costs me my seat…I can say I stood up for basic rights, and history can be my judge."
In the end, it was the speaker of the house -- a Republican -- Roy Cohee who broke the tie to kill the mean-spirited bill. According to the AP report, "Cohee said afterward that he mulled over the impassioned comments from residents and legislators on both sides of the issue before deciding to oppose the bill. "Is it a responsible thing of government to say that, OK, as a government, we'll provide certain benefits, and entitlements and rights to the people of this country and of this state, unless you are this or that?" Cohee said. "Is that our responsibility to do that? I don't think it is."

Speaking well for the legislature though, no lawmaker stood to speak in favor of the bill. However a Republican representative from Cheyenne,
Dan Zwonitzer, seemed to rivet the body with his comments, including, "This is the civil rights struggle of my generation."

His whole comments appear in the blog the Petrelis Files here.

Good on ya, Wyoming.


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1 comment:

Laurel said...

It is an extreme pleasure to see Republicans speak clearly for equality and speak clearly against special rights for a select class of people (heterosexuals).

I didn't notice in any of the reports, but apparently no one addressed the patently unconstitutional nature of this bill? Interesting if that's the case, because it could been a "safe" position for a legislator from a red district to take who wanted to vote 'no'. It is noteworthy that the rep from Cheyenne didn't take this duck 'n cover out, but rather the high road, to his 'no' vote.

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