Magazine article Church & State

Mormon-Led Push to Ban Same-Sex Marriage in Wyoming Fails

Magazine article Church & State

Mormon-Led Push to Ban Same-Sex Marriage in Wyoming Fails

Article excerpt

A tag-team effort by the Religious Right and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to add an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution banning same-sex marriage failed last month.

House Joint Resolution 17, which would have put the question of a same-sex marriage ban before the voters, failed in the House of Representatives by a 35-25 vote Feb. 6.

The measure had been introduced by Rep. Owen Petersen, a Republican from Mountain View who is one of 11 Mormons serving in the 90-member legislature. The Casper Star-Tribune reported recently that Mormons in the legislature are working as an informal bloc to promote legislation on social issues and are being recruited as co-sponsors by conservative lawmakers from other religious denominations.

A statewide Religious Right group called the WyWatch Family Institute has also been reaching out to the Mormons. Becky Vandeberghe, chair of the group, told the newspaper the organization solicits help from a variety of conservatives, remarking, "We honestly don't look at religion."

The religious coalition has introduced legislation curtailing abortion, banning assisted suicide and targeting other social issues.

Members of the Mormon bloc in Wyoming denied they are coordinating efforts.

"The fact of my religion probably has something to do with it," said Sen. Stan Cooper, a Republican from Kemmerer. "But I also have many constituents who are Christians but don't have a particular religion, but they are interested in these bills."

Mormon Church leaders in Wyoming insist they do not take a stand on legislation in the state, but the Star-Tribune pointed out that church officials in 2006 worked to kill a bill establishing a state lottery.

In Utah, where the state legislature is dominated by Mormons, the church's political role is more obvious. …

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