Wyoming: “The Inequality State”

Wyoming’s latest opportunity to prove that it’s state motto is even partially true has dissolved.

The “Equality State” has rejected even domestic partnerships for same-sex partners after bringing it to the House floor yesterday. From the Casper Star-Tribune:

Seal of Wyoming

Seal of Wyoming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Wyoming House has shot down a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to create domestic partnerships carrying most of the legal rights of conventional marriage.

The House voted 35-to-24 against the bill. It marked the first time that pro-gay legislation reached a full floor debate in the state Legislature.

Proponents of the bill said that it would grant same-sex couples as well as other citizens a way to share their property and make health care decisions for each other.

Opponents warned that the bill threatened to open the state to legal action seeking to force it to approve same-sex marriage.

A separate bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That bill now heads to the full Senate.

Wyoming, the state where Matthew Shepard was tragically murdered- now has an opportunity to outlaw discrimination. I will be delighted to see it happen- but it doesn’t seem very likely at this point.

Sad. If I were a Wyoming legislator, I’d introduce a bill to change the motto to “The Inequality State”.

Help Expand Medicaid in Montana!

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This session the Montana Legislature has an incredible opportunity to expand access to healthcare for 60,000 Montanans! Doing so would involve a minimal cost to the state, and have a major impact across our communities. Our legislators can do this by choosing to expand eligibility in the Medicaid program for individuals who live at or below 133% of the federal poverty level.  It will take a lot of effort on the ground across the state to pass this policy and we need your help!
We’re asking you to contact your Representative and Senator today and urge them to support Medicaid expansion! If we’re able to pass this expansion, it would be a huge victory for human rights in this state!
You can call and leave a message for your legislators at 406-444-4800 or you can fill out an online form by clicking here.  We’ve included some key facts and talking points at the end of this message.   Click here to find out who your legislators are.
We’re asking for your help because this is a once in a generation chance to expand an effective public healthcare program and get Montanans the care they need! But this policy won’t just help our neighbors who can’t afford health insurance. It will also have an incredible effect in our local and state economies. By expanding eligibility to our state Medicaid program, Montana will be investing in our workforce, creating new jobs, and giving a much needed boost to our economy. For more details on the economic impact of Medicaid expansion click here.
Expanding our Medicaid program is the right choice for Montana.  If we make that choice, 100% of the costs of expansion will be paid for through federal funding for the first 3 years. Beginning in 2017, Montana will pick up a small portion of the costs, paying no more than 10% from 2020 forward. This means that by investing a small amount of state dollars in our administrative capacity to expand the program, we can open access to healthcare for up to 60,000 Montanans.
We are so excited about this opportunity, and we’ll keep you updated as this policy discussion progresses.  For now, we hope you’ll write your legislators and let them know how important it is to support Medicaid expansion! 
Thank you for your continued support!
Sincerely,
Kim Abbott

Montana LGBTQ Directory 2013

mtgayflagCaitlin Copple of Pride Foundation has compiled a list of Montana LGBTQ service providers/organizations as a reference list. I will post it here, but I have also made it permanently available on the pages bar under the title.

To access the Directory click here:
MT LGBTQ Directory 2013 

If you have any revisions/additions, please email caitlin@pridefoundation.org

 

Please Share Your Story With Fair is Fair MT

The Fair is Fair campaign, a project of the ACLU of Montana, is dedicated to increasing public support for domestic partnerships by telling the stories of real couples who have been denied equal protection because their relationships are not legally recognized.
We are looking for same-sex couples who are willing to share their stories about how they have been denied basic protections afforded to other families.
 
MainLogo21If you are in a committed relationship with a same-sex partner and you have experienced difficulties (tax problems, pension issues, problems related to caring for children or making medical decisions for your family, or any other types of difficulties) because your relationship isn’t legally recognized, please e-mail me at niniab@aclumontana.org.
 
All communications will be handled as confidential by the ACLU.
 
Right now, loving, committed same-sex couples and their children still don’t have the protections they need to live their own lives in Montana.  The ACLU has brought a lawsuit, Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana, to win equal protection for same-sex couples.  Court cases are important, but to win lasting fairness for gay and lesbian couples we need to convince not just the courts but also the general public that Montanans need domestic partnerships.
 
Please don’t pass up this opportunity to tell your story and to help Fair is Fair change hearts and minds.
 

Wyoming Domestic Partnership Bill Passes Out Of Committee

Wyoming legislators have kiboshed marriage equality (for now), but The Equality State seems to be more down with separate but equal. From The Casper Star-Tribune:

Reverse of 2007 Wyoming quarter -- "The E...

Reverse of 2007 Wyoming quarter — “The Equality State” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A bill that would allow same-sex couples in Wyoming to create domestic partnerships carrying most of the legal rights of conventional marriage cleared a state House committee vote Monday after a sometimes contentious, sometimes bizarre public debate.

The move sends legislation on to a full floor debate in the state Legislature for the first time.

“This is a forward step,” said Rep. Cathy Connolly, a Laramie Democrat and a lesbian. “It’s important that our relationships are recognized. These are the kinds of statutes that both protect us and recognize us.”

Wyoming Equality weighs in:

Today, a historic law that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families passed its first hurdle in the Wyoming House of Representatives by a 7-2 vote. House Bill (HB) 168 would create a domestic partnership registry for opposite-sex and same-sex couples in committed relationships. HB169, which would have granted same-sex couples the freedom to marry, failed by a 5-4 vote.

The law, which was authored by Representative Cathy Connolly, would provide essential protections to LGBT families. The Domestic Partnerships Rights and Responsibilities Act (HB168) would ensure that both opposite-sex and same-sex couples have basic legal protections, such as the ability to make emergency medical decisions for each other and to make joint decisions about their children’s health and wellbeing.

“This is a historic day for equality,” said Jeran Artery, the Chair of Wyoming Equality. “Today marks the first time a bill has moved forward in the Wyoming legislature which would provide essential protections for LGBT families.

Ellen DeGeneres Coming To Montana?

Watch this:

And then share it.
Let’s make this happen!

Pride Foundation Gathering In Billings tomorrow

English: Rainbow flags at the end of the gay, ...

Leaders from two of the nation’s largest gay rights funders will help raise money for students and organizations in Montana at a fundraiser at Corby Skinner’s historic “Castle” on Friday, January 25 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Kris Hermanns, the Executive Director of the Pride Foundation, and Tim Sweeney, CEO and President of the Gill Foundation, will speak about the state of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality movement in Montana and the impact of recent marriage equality wins in the region.

For more information, to RSVP (invite yourself!), go to the Facebook event page here.