2 Jackson legislators back gay marriage, civil unions

2013-01-15T10:54:00Z 2013-01-15T20:16:03Z 2 Jackson legislators back gay marriage, civil unionsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 15, 2013 10:54 am  • 

JACKSON, Wyo. — Two Republican lawmakers are supporting proposals to allow either gay marriage or same-sex civil unions in Wyoming.

Reps. Keith Gingery and Ruth Ann Petroff of Jackson are supporting the proposals from Democratic Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie.

"It's a basic human rights and fairness issue," Petroff said. "It's a basic constitutional issue. There should just be no reason why same-sex couples shouldn't have the same rights as everyone else."

The bills were introduced late Monday afternoon.

House Bill 169 would allow gay marriage by changing the state's definition of marriage to a civil contract between "two natural persons" rather than a contract between "a male and a female person."

The other measure, House Bill 168, would create civil unions and allow same-sex couples to be treated as spouses under all state rules and laws.

Gingery said the number of gay couples is increasing, and their rights aren't clear under current state law. He said allowing gay marriage would be the best solution because it plugs gay marriage into the state's existing legal framework for marriage.

Lawmakers have considered bills allowing gay unions three times since 2007 but none of them has passed.

Last year, lawmakers considered but ultimately rejected a proposal that would have barred recognition of out-of-state, same-sex marriages.

The bills would have to win approval from both the House and Senate to advance to the governor's desk.

It's the first time that Gingery has backed a gay-marriage proposal, and he thinks the measures could have a chance of passing this year.

He said there are many new lawmakers, many of whom know gay couples.

"It's hard for anyone to be against gay marriage when there's a face to it and that face is a friend or relative," he said.

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