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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wyoming Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (CN) - A federal judge on Friday struck down Wyoming's ban on same-sex marriage, but stayed his own ruling until this Thursday.

Citing two rulings from the 10th Circuit this year, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said that he is bound by decisions made by his circuit court.

Lead plaintiff Anne Marie Guzzo and her partner, three other couples and Wyoming Equality sued the state on constitutional grounds, challenging its law limiting marriage to "between a male and a female person."

Though defendant Debra Lathrop, the Laramie County clerk, filed an affidavit supporting the plaintiffs, the Gov. Matthew Mead and the other two state-official defendants filed a motion in opposition.

Judge Skavdahl held an evidentiary hearing on Thursday, Oct. 16.

Summing the matter up in his Oct. ruling, Skavdahl wrote: While 10th Circuit's decisions in Kitchen v. Herbert, 755 F.3d 1193 (10th Cir. 2014), and Bishop v. Smith, 760 F.3d 1070 (10th Cir. 2014), may be publicly debated, one thing remains undebatable: '[A] district court is bound by decisions made by its circuit court.' Dobbs v. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 600 F.3d 1275, 1279 (10th Cir. 1990). Accordingly, the 10th Circuit's decisions in Kitchen and Bishop demand a determination in plaintiffs' favor."

Skavdahl enjoined the defendants from enforcing Wyoming Statute § 21-1-101, or any other state law denying same-sex coupled the right to marry, or refusing to recognize same-sex marriages entered into elsewhere.

Skavdahl stayed his ruling until 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, or until all the defendants file notice that they will not appeal to the 10th Circuit, whichever comes first.

Gov. Mead indicated that he will not appeal.

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