Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Legislative Action Alert!

Friends, Allies, and Supporters,

We are ready to rock and roll with Marriage Equality (HB169) and Domestic Partnerships (HB168) here in Wyoming. These two bills have been assigned to the Corporations Committee in the House of Representatives.  They are going to be heard at noon on Monday, January 28th.

All of the committee members names below are linked to take you to their legislative website.  The website contains phone and email contact information.

Here are my notes on what you can do to help;

Madam Chairwoman Rosie Berger,  Have not had a chance to speak with Chairwoman Berger but other Reps say to work on her.  Needs emails from across the state and especially from LGBT residents and allies living in Sheridan County.  Could become friendly but is going to take some work.  Email Rep. Berger now!

Rep. Gregg Blikre  I spoke with Rep Blikre this morning and he doesn't know where he stands.  He said he wants to hear all the arguments and make a decision from there.  So please email him and ask him for support, especially if you live in Gillette or Campbell county.  Again, I think we can get his support but he needs to hear from all of us.  Email Rep. Blikre now!

Rep. Dan Kirkbride  I spoke with Rep. Kirkbride this morning and he said he is a probably a no vote on both bills.  He doesn't think his constituents in Platte County are favorable. Personally I know Rep. Kirkbride and he is good man.  I expressed how important these are to me personally and he promised to keep an open mind a listen to our arguments.  He really needs to hear from LGBT members and allies in Platte County.  Email Rep. Kirkbride now!

Rep. Jerry Paxton  I have not had a chance to visit with him yet.  I'm hearing that he is moderate and persuadable.  His district includes parts of Albany, Sweetwater, and Carbon Counties.  Emails and phone calls of support would be great.  Email Rep. Paxton now!

Rep. Gerald Gay  A 100% no vote.  Don't waste your time on lobbying efforts.  This is the guy that publicly stated on the house floor that out of respect to his last name "we should call these people what they are, homosexual sodomites... not gay."

Rep. James (Jim) Byrd  100% yes vote.  Co-sponsor of both bills.

Rep. Matt Greene 100% yes vote.  Co-sponsor of Domestic Partnerships and supports marriage equality.

Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff 100% yes vote.  Also co-sponsor of both bills and an absolute delight to work with.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer 100% yes vote. Co-sponsor of both bills and a tremendous ally.

Here are some resources to help;

This is a great video from our friends at QAN in Laramie on how to be an effective citizen lobbyist.  A little lengthy but worth the listen.  Get a group of friends together and watch this.

One of the most effective forms of communication is email.  Some simple guidelines to follow; always be polite, keep emails short and sweet, and talk about how this relates you personally.

Here are some talking points on the Domestic Partnership Bill;


What is the Domestic Partnership Rights and Responsibilities Act?
Gay and lesbian couples share the same values of lifetime commitment and family as any other couple. This bill affords them the most basic legal protections they don't have now -like being able to make emergency medical decisions for each other and to properly care for the well being of their children. The bill also carries certain responsibilities that comes with entering into a domestic partnership.

Why Wyoming should support HB0168:

  • Wyoming's tradition of small government rejects the government tell people who they can love or what their families must look like.  Wyoming laws should support all Wyoming families.

  • Census data# shows that there are lesbian and gay couples living in almost every Wyoming county. In some counties, most or all of these families are raising children. These kids need legal protections; otherwise these families continue to be at risk of being torn apart.

  • This bill is good for business. States like Wyoming that do not recognize lesbian and gay couples make it difficult for companies with non-discrimination policies to recruit or transfer employees.

  • Research has consistently shown that strong families are less likely to require state sponsored assistance. The DPR bill will save taxpayer dollars by allowing Wyoming families to solidify the bonds that create both the rights and responsibilities required for enduring family ties. For example, only the spouse of a deceased police officer, fire fighter, or emergency medical technician will receive monthly pension benefits or be able to handle the remains and possessions of the fallen officer. Under HB0168, the partners of gay and lesbian police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians will become eligible to receive the same pension benefits and given the same right to handle the remains as spouses.#

  • Presently, domestic partners have no rights under Wyoming law.  HB0168 will provide these families numerous rights including the ability to make health care decisions, funeral arrangements, and handle the remains of their deceased partner. HB0168 will instead treat everyone equally and fairly under the law.

  • HB0168 provides domestic partners not only rights, but also responsibilities, ensuring that their families and taxpayers are protected.  For example, HB0168 will help ensure that children are provided for by both parents in a domestic partnership, protecting children and saving taxpayers money.  

Domestic partnerships and religious freedom

  • HB0168 defines domestic partnership as a civil contract that does not involve clergy. It spells out that a domestic partnership agreement is granted by a court house not a church. Religious freedom is protected.

  • Wyoming clergy are free to choose whatever unions they solemnize, recognize or celebrate and to reject those unions that do not conform to their religious beliefs.

Here are talking points on the Marriage Equality Bill;

Marriage Definition - HB0169

What is HB0169?
This bill would amend state law to grant committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry. HB0169 supports Wyoming’s interest in promoting strong and stable families.

Why should Wyoming support HB0169?

  • Under Wyoming law, same-sex couples can be denied the ability to make emergency medical decisions or take other measures to protect life and property. HB0169 allows same-sex couples to formalize their relationship as legal families with the ability to make emergency decisions.
  • Our choice of marriage partners is one the most important decisions we’ll ever make and, as written, Wyoming law denies LGBT people that decision.
  • HB0169 supports Wyoming’s tradition of small government, which reserves the right to choose a marriage partner to residents of the state, without government influence.
  • No one should be told it’s illegal to marry the person they love. If an adult can pay taxes, vote, serve in the military, own a gun and start a business then we should grant them the freedom to marry.
  • Census data# show that there are same-sex couples living in almost every Wyoming county. In some counties, most or all of these families are raising children. Without the protections offered by legal marriage, these families are treated as strangers under the law.
  • Businesses across the country support marriage for same-sex couples because it allows them to recruit the best and brightest employees to their state. Marriage equality is good for Wyoming businesses.

Marriage and religious freedom

  • Wyoming law defines marriage as a civil contract. Clergy and religious organizations will continue to be able to refuse to recognize, solemnize or perform any marriage that does not conform to their religious beliefs.

  • HB0169 protects religious freedom by supporting the growing number of religious denominations that choose to marry same-sex couples.

Civil unions are not sufficient
  • In a crisis situation, not everyone knows what a civil union means. Only marriage provides families the protections they need if their loved ones are in the hospital or have a school emergency.

  • Parents dream of the day when their child gets married, not the day that they sign a legal civil contract. There is nothing like marriage, and a civil union is not a substitute for it.

  • Only legally-recognized marriages are eligible for federal protections and benefits such as federal taxation, social security, military survivor benefits and hundreds more.

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