Friday, October 17, 2014

Marriage Equality Comes to Wyoming

Federal Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, WY – Today, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl declared Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The State of Wyoming has until October 23rd to decide if it will appeal the decision. Governor Mead indicated last night that the state would not appeal. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wyoming celebrates this decision. Wyomingites will soon have the freedom to marry the person they love without regard to gender. The ruling also requires Wyoming to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for this decision when it declined to hear appeals from states seeking to uphold bans on same-sex marriages. This included Denver-based Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings from this summer.

“Gay couples in Wyoming will soon be legally entitled to share the pride and security that comes with a marriage license,” says Jennifer Horvath, staff attorney with the ACLU of Wyoming. “It is a historic and exciting day in the Equality State.”

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization filed the first freedom to marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in the nation in 1970, represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, and filed marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples pending in several other states.

“People can get married, but might not share their happy news for fear of getting fired or kicked out of their home,” Horvath said. “Discrimination against gay people is still legal in Wyoming. Where people work, live and play should not be dictated by sexual orientation. By extending existing nondiscrimination protections, we can all enjoy equal rights in the Equality State.”

Read Judge Skavdahl’s ruling.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Press Release: Statement on Marriage Equality








FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2014

Contact: Jennifer Horvath, Staff Attorney; jhorvath@aclu.org, 307.637.4565

CHEYENNE, WY – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wyoming celebrates the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions this morning denying certiorari in the pending marriage cases.  This is a wonderful victory for same-sex couples who will soon be able to marry, including right here in Wyoming.

The Supreme Court’s action this morning means the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decisions recognizing marriage equality are now final, and the stays will be lifted in those cases. Marriages will go forward immediately in some states, other states will soon follow. This brings the number of states with marriage for same-sex couples to 30.

“The freedom to marry the person you love is coming to Wyoming soon,” says Jennifer Horvath, staff attorney with the ACLU of Wyoming.  “The Supreme Court’s decisions this morning means that all states in the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth circuits, which includes Wyoming, are bound by circuit decisions recognizing marriage for same-sex couples.”

The Supreme Court’s action this morning sends an unmistakable signal that the Court is comfortable with the lower court decisions in favor of marriage equality, and the ACLU thinks that courts will read that loud and clear. The Tenth Circuit held earlier this year that it is unconstitutional to exclude same-sex couples from the protections of marriage. Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming are in the Tenth Circuit.  

“As happy as we are to see this day arrive in Wyoming, we know that we have more work to do before LGBT people have equal rights in the Equality State.” Horvath said. “We encourage public officials in Wyoming to stop defending discrimination.”   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Learn about new death penalty project - Final Words

Dear friends and ACLU supporters:

We wanted to share information with you regarding the launch of an incredible project – Final Words. Since 1982, the State of Texas has put to death 517 convicted inmates. This translates to a rate of more than one person executed every month for thirty-one years. Final Words is a haunting collection of the final statements by condemned men and women on the verge of a forced death. Collectively, these words remove a silence inherent within the conversation surrounding capital punishment, literally embodying the humanity systematically undermined by state-sanctioned death.

Final Words is a book and traveling exhibition featuring the final statements from the 517 prisoners executed by the State of Texas since 1982. Final Words is the first publication by Neverland Publications, and is far more than just a book or a collection of records; it is a grass-roots crowd-funded project that intends to create an insightful and humanistic-based dialogue around the world in various forums, including student associations, lawyer associations, academic colloquia bringing leading public figures together for education and debate, as well as public discourse in high schools, community colleges, and religious institutions. Speaking to each reader’s personal conscience, Final Words places the individual and their inherent humanistic rights back at the center of the conversation, changing the focus of the debate from criminal justice to human rights.

This project highlights the glaring contradictions found in a society that champions itself as a progressive protector of human rights, yet continues to allow the systematic execution of its own citizens, even with the unavoidable cost of innocent lives that inevitably are swept up in the criminal justice system. Neverland Publications aims to provide a free Final Words book and curriculum to each public high school within the 32 states where the death penalty is legal, totaling approximately 14,000 books, to facilitate insightful, honest and local debate for the next generation.

Click here to find out more about the launch of this important project.