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How Wyoming beat an anti-SSM amendment:

Michael Petrelis has some interesting reporting and links on the opposition to the anti-SSM amendment that was defeated in the Wyoming legislature on Friday. It included an openly lesbian House member who says she's "too lazy to be closeted" and two heterosexual Mormon representatives who think their church is making a big mistake by backing such amendments. It also included 16 Republicans in a GOP-dominated body.

In comments, rather than rehash the arguments over SSM, I'd be curious to hear from readers familiar with Wyoming politics about why they think such an amendment has not made it through the state legislature.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. How Wyoming beat an anti-SSM amendment:
  2. Wyoming legislature kills anti-SSM amendment:
Mongoose:
The answer is the simple one you'd expect: people in Wyoming are libertarians, not conservative Bible-thumping Republicans. In a state where there are no urban areas, it's pretty easy to see that there are a lot of people who want to be left alone.
2.9.2009 3:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Also, in a state with effectively no urban areas (especially compared to states like Idaho, Utah, and Colorado), what few gay people there are probably not interested in drawing attention to themselves.
2.9.2009 3:37pm
Kevin P. (mail):
Many of the Western states have a live-and-let-live libertarian attitude. This should not be confused with California-style endorsement and PC celebration of < insert any behavior here >, but rather a "not for me but fine for thee".
2.9.2009 3:51pm
Grover_Cleveland:
They're hoping for a sequel to Brokeback Mountain?
2.9.2009 3:55pm
Bart (mail):
The loss in Wyoming is probably due to a combination of libertarians and CA refugees who brought their Dem social politics with them.

Apart from the more perceptive analysts like Michael Barone, most of the press has missed how the migration of natives out of expensive and mismanaged blue states like California and NY into the Rocky Mountain west has given our formerly deep red politics a definite purple hue as the Dems fleeing the results of Dem politics in the Blue states are bringing those same politics to our part of the country.

Another telling example is the narrow failure of Initiative 46 (prohibiting racial preferences) out here in Colorado in 2008. Four years ago, this proposition would have sailed through. However, Colorado turned purple in the interim.

Thankfully, the Colorado constitution has the Taxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR) from our red state days - capping taxes and the growth of spending unless there is a popular vote to exceed constitutional limits. Fiscally, our new Dems are not much different from our old GOP because TABOR puts our new blue government on a strict allowance. Washington DC could sure use a federal TABOR to stop this Porkulus madness.
2.9.2009 4:09pm
Dale Carpenter (mail):
I've heard these Westerners-are-libertarian ideas before, and maybe they help explain it. But other Western states have such amendments, including all of the states surrounding Wyoming, so I'm looking for some sense of what makes Wyoming different. Is there something about the particular politics or legislature of the state?
2.9.2009 4:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
Many of the Western states have a live-and-let-live libertarian attitude. This should not be confused with California-style endorsement and PC celebration of insert any behavior here , but rather a "not for me but fine for thee".
</blockquote>Complicating the matter is that while the citizens of many Western states have such a view, there is some cringing at the prospect that giving official recognition might lead to some fiercely unlibertarian laws—such as the situation that led to Elaine Hugenin's being fined more than $6000 for saying, "I would rather not participate in your civil union ceremony."
2.9.2009 4:12pm
Yale2010:
The Matthew Shepard slaying was a huge embarrassment for the state when I lived there, and it brought a lot of unwanted attention--most people in Wyoming were of course as shocked and disgusted as the rest of the country. I'm sure memories of that incident color public opinion, much the same way that Colorado (although a strongly pro-gun state) has been skidish about guns after Columbine.
2.9.2009 4:12pm
Pragmaticist:
It's a combination of libertarianism and pride in its position as the "Equality" State.
2.9.2009 4:19pm
RMF (mail) (www):
Bart couldn't be more wrong in his tendentious rant. CA refuges didn't turn Colorado purple, GOP fundamentalism on taxes and social issues did it. Colorado turned purple because the hard core totalitarian republicans took over the Republican party and purged all moderates from the party and (including defeating moderates in primaries) especially those who actually believed in live and let live and dissented from an "all taxes are always bad" litmus test. People got sick of the theocons attempting to shove their moral values on other people. Also, since the vast majority of the Colorado population is in one big huge urban sprawl, folks decided that low-tax fundamentalism didn't work well when basic social services were needed in such a highly urbanized concentration.

Wyoming is a special case. It is completely non-urban (biggest "city" Casper is about 50,000), distances are staggering, and libertarians are at the liberal end of the spectrum with a large number of "off the grid" types. The story there isn't over yet though because the theocons are enraged and are talking about a GOP purge. It will be an interesting laboratory experiment due to the tiny number of voters in the state and the fact that there appears to be the makings of a bitter GOP civil war between the libertarian strain and the theocon strain.
2.9.2009 4:22pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The Matthew Shepard slaying was a huge embarrassment for the state when I lived there, and it brought a lot of unwanted attention--most people in Wyoming were of course as shocked and disgusted as the rest of the country.
As well they should have been. But Shepard's murder wasn't antigay bias--one of his killers is bisexual. It was a masterful work of gay victimization, however, to spin this horrible crime into something that it wasn't.
2.9.2009 4:26pm
A Law Dawg:
Didn't Shepard's killers say that they didn't even know he was gay? I don't know if it's true, or even if they said it, but for some reason that sticks in my brain.
2.9.2009 4:31pm
Yale2010:

As well they should have been. But Shepard's murder wasn't antigay bias--one of his killers is bisexual. It was a masterful work of gay victimization, however, to spin this horrible crime into something that it wasn't.


The current story was that they wanted to rob a gay man--the motivation was robbery, which was incidentally homophobic. I don't buy it... if you want to rob someone, you don't take him out to a remote county road, bludgeon him with a pistol, tie him to a barbed wire fence, and leave him to die. You take the guy out into the parking lot, overpower him, and steal his wallet. I'm the first person to dismiss hate crime legislation proponents for creating a homophobic motivation where one doesn't exist, but there's absolutely no other explanation for the crime's brutality.
2.9.2009 4:48pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I'm the first person to dismiss hate crime legislation proponents for creating a homophobic motivation where one doesn't exist, but there's absolutely no other explanation for the crime's brutality.
20/20, amazingly enough, did a very thorough investigation some years ago, and demonstrated that it was not antigay bias at all. They were out to rob someone, they were pretty high as I recall (meth freaks), and they interviewed one guy in the area who had had sex with one of the killers a year or two earlier.
2.9.2009 4:59pm
Dale Carpenter (mail):
Lack of urbanization would seem to cut the other way. Urban voters are the most socially liberal/libertarian and urban areas are centers for gay political mobilization. Rural and small-town voters are more socially conservative.

I assume Wyoming voters would support an anti-SSM amendment if they were asked to vote on it. But the question is whether they care enough to mobilze on the issue. Legsilators, including a surprisingly large number of Republican ones, apparently thought they had nothing to fear from voting against this even though their constituents probably supported it.
2.9.2009 4:59pm
Colo Guest:

CA refuges didn't turn Colorado purple, GOP fundamentalism on taxes and social issues did it.


+1.

It is also worth noting that Colorado experienced a large influx of conservative Californians. They left Orange County following the Northridge Quake and ahead of changing demographics. The most famous of these is, of course, Focus on the Family.

Additionally, calling Colorado "purple" always strikes me as somewhat odd. We have a Democrat for a Governor, both Senators are Democrats, most of our House Delegation are Democrats, Democrats control the state legislature, and we went for Obama by a wide margin. Granted we may not be blue in the sense that it is understood on the coasts, but the state is fairly solidly Democratic right now.
2.9.2009 5:00pm
Anon21:
Clayton E. Cramer:
As well they should have been. But Shepard's murder wasn't antigay bias--one of his killers is bisexual. It was a masterful work of gay victimization, however, to spin this horrible crime into something that it wasn't.

Allegedly bisexual, and certainly closeted if that. That revelation does not and cannot overcome the ample evidence provided both at trial and elsewhere that Shepard was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Whether the killers' initial intent was to rob him or to murder him is irrelevant to the issue of why he was chosen, which was clearly because he was gay.

Incidentally, I'm sure gay people would trade their "masterful victimization" skills for a reduction in gaybashing (violent crime targeting homosexuals on the basis of their sexual orientation) and a corresponding increase in their quality of life. The trouble is that some sick bigots out there don't wish to make that exchange, forcing gay activists to fall back on a second-best strategy of bringing the problem to public attention, as they did in the Shepard case. As it so happens, I do not agree with one of their specific objectives--hate crimes legislation--but I certainly understand where the impulse comes from, and can't possibly fault them for it.
2.9.2009 5:05pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
The outcome was probably partly influenced or exemplified by those famous Wyomians, Dick and Lynn Cheney, [he says only half in jest]. They have set a estimable example for all parents of gay children by refusing to exclude their openly gay daughter from both political and family gatherings despite snide comments from the likes of John Edwards.
2.9.2009 5:12pm
Bart (mail):
RMF:

Bart couldn't be more wrong in his tendentious rant. CA refuges didn't turn Colorado purple, GOP fundamentalism on taxes and social issues did it. Colorado turned purple because the hard core totalitarian republicans took over the Republican party and purged all moderates from the party and (including defeating moderates in primaries) especially those who actually believed in live and let live and dissented from an "all taxes are always bad" litmus test. People got sick of the theocons attempting to shove their moral values on other people. Also, since the vast majority of the Colorado population is in one big huge urban sprawl, folks decided that low-tax fundamentalism didn't work well when basic social services were needed in such a highly urbanized concentration.

1) Religious issues are not generally the subject of political campaigns here in Colorado. The religious conservatives tend to use the initiative process.

2) "Low tax fundamentalism" is still the majority position in Colorado as nearly every tax increase placed on the ballot lost during last year's blue election.

3) Dems running statewide campaigns here in CO run as fiscal conservatives and do their best to stay away from hot button social issues, thus my purple designation. CO is nothing like the Peoples Republic of Cal-ee-for-nee-ya - which is your archetypical blue state.
2.9.2009 5:22pm
Michael B (mail):
The people of Wyoming, in general, have no more need to be embarrassed by Matthew Shephard's murder than the people of Kansas, in general, had a need to be embarrassed by the horrific slayings in Holcomb, Kansas, c. the late 1950's, made famous by Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." The unconscionable acts of the perpetrators should obviously be a source of shame and embarrassment to themselves, but the idea the entire population should be embarrassed is, shall we say, both problematic and revealing of PC dictates. (Or perhaps it's only the heterosexuals in Wyoming who are to be made to feel embarrassed, given the tone of the coverage.)

Ironically, it was the MSM/political/ideologically driven agenda that attended Matthew Shephard's murder that, in turn, should be something of an embarrassment to a public that allowed itself to be manipulated by such systematic and agenda driven distortions.

Hence the striking contrast with the contemporaneous (***) thirteen year-old Jesse Dirkhising case, wherein Dirkhising was sodomized and murdered by one or two homosexual/pedophile(?) perpetrators in Arkansas. Was there so much as a hint that the citizens of Arkansas should be made to feel embarrassed by Jesse Dirkhising's sodomy and murder? Or that the homosexual population of Arkansas, or the country in general, should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed by Dirkhising's murder? No, there were no intimations in that vein whatsoever. Publicizing Dirkhising's murder did not fit the politically correct paradigm - in fact, it ran counter to that paradigm.

*** Jesse Dirkhising was molested and murdered within twelve (12) months of Matthew Shephard's murder.
2.9.2009 5:25pm
Kazinski:
I'll explain it to you Dale, the reason the legislature defeated the constitutional amendment is because nobody is trying to ram it down their throats in the courts. I'm not particularly gay marriage friendly, but I would not favor a anti-gay marriage amendment in our state, unless SSM was declared by fiat by the state courts, then of course there wouldn't be a choice. Let SSM happen by the democratic process and social conservatives may grumble a little bit, but there will not be a big backlash. It's just having it rammed down our throats (so to speak) by the courts in end run around our constitutions and the law that will end of giving you anti SSM amendments.

And as a case in point, how may states had anti-SSM amendments before the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided they were the sole repository of wisdom in the commonwealth?
2.9.2009 5:27pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
None of the explanations offered above seem adequate to me, but especially not the the Wyoming-is-libertarian suggestion.

According to this summary, the Wyoming legislature voted down a similar effort to amend the constitution in 2005, and these news stories indicate that the same sort of constitutional amendment was defeated in 2007 as well. This is consistent enough with the Wyoming-is-libertarian theme.

But how do you account for the fact that Wyoming statutorily defines marriage to exclude same-sex marriage? That does not seem consistent with the libertarianism ascribed to the state by some.
2.9.2009 5:38pm
glangston (mail):
Bart (mail):
The loss in Wyoming is probably due to a combination of libertarians and CA refugees who brought their Dem social politics with them.

Apart from the more perceptive analysts like Michael Barone, most of the press has missed how the migration of natives out of expensive and mismanaged blue states like California and NY into the Rocky Mountain west has given our formerly deep red politics a definite purple hue as the Dems fleeing the results of Dem politics in the Blue states are bringing those same politics to our part of the country.




I've heard this same claim many times. It is still difficult to believe that Democrats are fleeing California, since it is indeed the Democrats who run this state. As Spock would say, "it is illogical". Still, granting that it's true, the claim goes even further into the illogical to claim these same dis-illusioned Democrats sought refuge in a Red state. Cats living with dogs is next.
2.9.2009 5:40pm
Crust (mail):
Maybe Cheney made a few calls?
2.9.2009 5:45pm
Bart (mail):
glangston (mail):

Bart (mail): The loss in Wyoming is probably due to a combination of libertarians and CA refugees who brought their Dem social politics with them.

I've heard this same claim many times. It is still difficult to believe that Democrats are fleeing California, since it is indeed the Democrats who run this state. As Spock would say, "it is illogical". Still, granting that it's true, the claim goes even further into the illogical to claim these same dis-illusioned Democrats sought refuge in a Red state. Cats living with dogs is next.

The fact that anyone - Dems or GOP - migrate to states with lower costs of living and better employment opportunities is hardly surprising. When I lived in Florida in the 70s through the 90s, I saw NY and the Rust Belt migrate into Florida for exactly those reasons. South Florida is NY south and deep blue. Now, I am seeing the same thing all over again in CO as folks have started to migrate out of CA.

What constantly amazes me is that the Dems fleeing high taxes and bad economies of their former blue states are apparently oblivious that it was their politics that made their former states unlivable and maybe they might not want to repeat the same mistakes in the their new homes. However, for many people, politics is like rooting for a sports team - they personally identify with the team regardless of how badly it is run.
2.9.2009 6:13pm
Waldo (mail):
The real reason may be something as simple as a reluctance to amend the State Constitution until it is necessary. That's similar to the position taken by John McCain when voting against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Since Wyoming is almost completely rural and most gay activists are urban, there is relatively little chance that courts or the legislature will approve SSM. So, why amend?

Also, Wyoming doesn't seem to have as much of a tradition of using constitutional amendments as a policy tool. I believe Wyoming has only 60 amendments to a constitution adopted in 1889. In contrast, Alabama has 798 amendments to a constitution adopted in 1901.
2.9.2009 6:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I've heard this same claim many times. It is still difficult to believe that Democrats are fleeing California, since it is indeed the Democrats who run this state. As Spock would say, "it is illogical". Still, granting that it's true, the claim goes even further into the illogical to claim these same dis-illusioned Democrats sought refuge in a Red state. Cats living with dogs is next.
Idaho has a lot of ex-Californians. Some of them got tired of the left's fascist tendencies, and made a conscious decision to move somewhere where the government isn't trying to run everyone's lives.

Others left because California was too expensive to live in at a middle class level, and unless you were rich, or prepared to live 11 people to a 2 bedroom apartment, it was no longer possible to live there. Unfortunately, many of these economic refugees came to places like Idaho, happy that there was almost no crime, relatively well behaved kids, a shortage of topless/bottomless places, and no perverts having sex in the middle of public streets--and yet still thought Idaho needed to be liberal like the place that just drove them out.
2.9.2009 6:25pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Does anyone have any actual data that would support the notion that demographic changes, such as immigration from California, accounts for the politics of Wyoming? If Wikipedia is accurate, this immigration hypothesis seems highly unlikely as a potential explanation:
As of 2005, Wyoming has an estimated population of 509,294, which is an increase of 3,407, or 0.7%, from the prior year and an increase of 15,512, or 3.1%, since the 2000 census. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 12,165 people (that is 33,704 births minus 21,539 deaths) and an increase from net migration of 4,035 people into the state. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 2,264 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 1,771 people.
Granted, it's just Wikipedia; but, it does not seem like Wyoming is seeing much immigration. Does anyone have better and/or more recent data suggesting the contrary?
2.9.2009 6:42pm
Kazinski:
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk:
But how do you account for the fact that Wyoming statutorily defines marriage to exclude same-sex marriage? That does not seem consistent with the libertarianism ascribed to the state by some.

Correct, however that dovetails nicely with my theory that they see no need for an anti-SSM amendment, precisely because the will of the people duly enacted by their legislature is not under assault in the courts.

Let however some state judge declare their statute unconstitutional or void on rational purpose grounds, and I predict that Wyoming would soon enact a constitutional amendment banning SSM. The issue is more about the sovereignty of the people, rather than SSM.
2.9.2009 6:43pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Mmmmm...

"almost no crime", you say, Clayton?

My handy-dandy crime rate stats for 2007 show that per 100,000 population, which include the hard urban slums in CA (not too many of those in Idaho) we've got:
--------- Violent-------Non-Violent
California--522.6--------3033
and
Idaho-------239.4--------2246

So, less, but definitely not "almost none". ... and for "places like Idaho" (i.e., Red States, without lots of what Clayton regards as dangerous immorality, like ladies in leather suits on TV)

Tenn.----------753---------4088
ALASKA!-----661---------3379
2.9.2009 7:01pm
R Gould-Saltman (mail):
Whoops; that second category should be "non-violent property crimes".
2.9.2009 7:02pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Kazinski:

Your hypothesis could be correct as either a partial or a complete explanation of what's going on here. But I'm not yet convinced. Consider, for example, the neighboring state of Idaho; its voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006. But undoubtedly its state law then contained the same conventional definition of marriage embodied in Wyoming's statute, and surely traditional marriage was in no more danger from the Idaho judiciary than it is from the Wyoming judiciary. So why the different result?
2.9.2009 7:07pm
Kazinski:
Curmudgeonly Ex,
It may well be that Idaho has more fear of it's courts than Wyoming does.
2.9.2009 7:59pm
Waldo (mail):
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk:

I believe you've answered that question yourself. There has been very little migration into Wyoming. As you note, there's been a net increase in population due to migration of ~4k out of a population of 509k, less than 1%. In contrast, Idaho has had a net migration of almost 76k out of a population that in 2005 reached 1429k, over 5%. Is it unreasonable to believe that the difference in migration would create a difference in the perception of the threat to traditional marriage?
2.9.2009 8:08pm
Randy R. (mail):
Clayton: "It was a masterful work of gay victimization, however, to spin this horrible crime into something that it wasn't."

When the suspects were picked up for the murder of Mathew Sheppard, at least one of them claimed that Mathew made a pass at them and so they became enraged that he thought that they were gay and killed him.

In other words, they tried to use the gay panic defense. So when the media 'spun' this as a gay victimization, under the facts at the time from the suspects themselves, it was in fact true.

" Jesse Dirkhising was molested and murdered within twelve (12) months of Matthew Shephard's murder."

Just another example of Michael B demonstrating his compassion for gays. HOw I ever thought he had any antipathy towards gays, I don't know.
2.9.2009 8:08pm
ECM (mail):
Clayton:


Idaho has a lot of ex-Californians. Some of them got tired of the left's fascist tendencies, and made a conscious decision to move somewhere where the government isn't trying to run everyone's lives.

Others left because California was too expensive to live in at a middle class level, and unless you were rich, or prepared to live 11 people to a 2 bedroom apartment, it was no longer possible to live there. Unfortunately, many of these economic refugees came to places like Idaho, happy that there was almost no crime, relatively well behaved kids, a shortage of topless/bottomless places, and no perverts having sex in the middle of public streets--and yet still thought Idaho needed to be liberal like the place that just drove them out.


It's the same deal in NH with the refugees from Mass to the southern part of the Granite State that are, quite obviously, changing the complexion of the state--why there are people in this thread denying the obvious demographic changes in CO, ID, and NH (and, perhaps, WY) is somewhat mystifying. Do they all honestly believe that all of these once solidly-red states are going purple/blue in short order because long-time residents suddenly don't like lower taxes and (relatively) hands-off governing?
2.9.2009 8:32pm
Festooned with Christmas tree ornaments:
The outcome was probably partly influenced or exemplified by those famous Wyomians, Dick and Lynn Cheney, [he says only half in jest]. They have set a estimable example for all parents of gay children by refusing to exclude their openly gay daughter from both political and family gatherings despite snide comments from the likes of John Edwards.


I'm no fan of John Edwards, but when did he make snide comments about Cheney's daughter?
2.9.2009 8:33pm
pintler:

so I'm looking for some sense of what makes Wyoming different. Is there something about the particular politics or legislature of the state?


Disclaimer: I moved (alas!) out of Wyoming 20 years ago, and wasn't an expert on WY politics when I was there.

My guess is that politics in the surrounding states are mostly driven by large urban areas - CO has Denver, UT has Salt Lake, ID has Boise; only MT (and SD??) has no large urban area (and MT is getting there with Billings). There are two cities in WY of about 50K each, and from there it goes down into the 20K range (from memory). WY attitudes are driven by a 'I'll mind my business if you will mind yours' attitude.


Urban voters are the most socially liberal/libertarian


I dunno if I would bet on that in Wyoming. I have lived in WY towns with populations in the low few hundreds. Like any small town, everyone knows everyone's business, but are still live and let live. YMMV!

And you don't even want to think about moving there - just compute the wind chill at minus 40 and a 60 MPH wind :-), hissing snow snakes in winter, dusty tumbleweed in summer, a regular Hades on earth.
2.9.2009 8:39pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Ok. I'll admit it: I'm dazed and confused. Lost, too.

Let us suppose that Matt Shephard was not selected as a vcitim because he was gay - all accumulated evidence to the contrary. Let's suppose that some gays and lesbians react to their victimization by feeling victimized. Let us acknowledge that there are people who sexually assault children [yes, Clayton, 'pedophiles'] and some who kill children [how about 'monsters'?].

What does any of this have to do with the legal wisdom or political morality of forbidding same-sex couples the rights of 'marriage' afforded to heterosexual couples?

Am I missing something?
2.9.2009 8:47pm
Anon21:
ECM:
It's the same deal in NH with the refugees from Mass to the southern part of the Granite State that are, quite obviously, changing the complexion of the state--why there are people in this thread denying the obvious demographic changes in CO, ID, and NH (and, perhaps, WY) is somewhat mystifying. Do they all honestly believe that all of these once solidly-red states are going purple/blue in short order because long-time residents suddenly don't like lower taxes and (relatively) hands-off governing?

Well, I thought a number of states (not Idaho or Wyoming, though!) were blueing at the national level for the obvious reason: the last eight years of Republican rule have been a catastrophe. (Incidentally--Colorado and New Hampshire were solid red states...when, exactly?) Or are we supposed to believe that Indiana's 19-point swing between '04 and '08 was a result of mass migration from...where, Chicago?

This tangent, to be honest, is fairly stupid. The states which are solidly committed to either party at the national level at any given time is relatively small. You don't need some far-fetched, evidence-challenged theory of mass migration to explain why a number of states flipped over the course of the last several election cycles.
2.9.2009 9:34pm
Fûz (mail) (www):
I'm no expert on the place either. Was motivated to move here partly by FreeStateWyoming movement.

There is a strong city-mouse-country-mouse dynamic here. Cheyenne of about 80k people (AF base and outlying developments included) is considered the Big City.

I also hear anecdotally that there are the usual proportion of gays in Wyoming, but they feel no need to be in the closet. They aren't concentrated any more in the urban than rural areas.

Laramie has the University, so Laramie has most of what would make Wyoming 'purple' rather than red. Cheyenne, the seat of state government, is a commute. The limousine Dems have their redoubt in Jackson Hole. They'd militate against anti-SSM hard.

The GOP here has come to accept much Federal meddling but at arm's length. Maybe an anti-SSM law would attract the kind they don't want.
2.9.2009 10:04pm
Fedya (www):
Well, I thought a number of states (not Idaho or Wyoming, though!) were blueing at the national level for the obvious reason: the last eight years of Republican rule have been a catastrophe.

Except that the swing from solidly Republican to either mixed or solidly Democrat has been going on in these states for decades.

There are states that may vote against trends in the Presidential election because of a current administration's (un)popularity, but that's not what's under discussion here. I highly doubt anybody suggested that Massachusetts was no longer a solidly Democratic state just because Reagan carried it in 1984.

To put it another way, what caused Vermont to change from the state that gave us Calvin Coolidge to the state that elected Bernie Sanders?
2.9.2009 11:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Randy R.,

Intellectually incoherent (you didn't respond to any aspect of my argument whatsoever) and morally vacuous and presumptuous (there's not the slightest indication in what I forwarded that I don't care about victims of violent crime or that I care about them on a selective basis only - even to the contrary since my argument was formed against those who did evidence such selectivity - including yourself, at least apparently so).

Hence, it's no wonder you avoided responding to the argument and opted instead for an incoherent moralizing preachment.
2.10.2009 12:05am
Randy R. (mail):
Michael B: "Or that the homosexual population of Arkansas, or the country in general, should be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed by Dirkhising's murder?"

Actually, there was. the Family Research Council tried very hard to make all gays responsbile for that murder. And the Washington Times made it front page news as well.

"No, there were no intimations in that vein whatsoever. Publicizing Dirkhising's murder did not fit the politically correct paradigm - in fact, it ran counter to that paradigm."

As noted above, there in fact was a vein. In addition, Andrew Sullivan, prominent gay conservative, made much news about it as well. But hey,don't let the facts get the way of your own victimization.

Yes,Michael, I get your argument. Because two gay men killed a boy a few months after Mathew Sheppard was killed, that means that gays (or, as you so kindly refer to us, homosexuals) are prohibited from ever complaining about being killed for being gay.

Nope -- you're right. No point in arguing with your statement,and I won't even try. But I will say this -- when anyone thinks it's okay to kill gay people just for being gay, that attitude doesn't just come from nowhere. It comes from the community. And perhaps if you had seen the play by Moises kaufman, based on his interviews with people in Laramie, you would find that there were quite a few people who think that Mathew Sheppard got what he deserved.

so yes, anyone who thinks that should feel ashamed, and bears some responsibility for his murder.
2.10.2009 1:39am
Michael B (mail):
Randy R.,

Firstly, I'll admit I overstated the case when I indicated the Dirkhising murder didn't receive a "hint" of the type of publicity referred to. Otoh, it was largely a reaction, comparatively, to the over-the-top activism and publicity the Sheperd case had received. (Now, if you could subject your own commentary to a similar self-criticism ...)

In terms of someone writing a play, I'm familiar with the "creative license" playwrights, screen writers, actors and others can arrogate to themselves and their agendas. Two or three different plays come immediately to mind. Regardless, I didn't suggest people don't have prejudices that need community or societal attention. To the contrary, I hi-lighted some of those prejudices, albeit some politically correct prejudices - prejudices you and others don't wish to focus upon. What I said is: "the people of Wyoming, in general, have no more need to be embarrassed by Matthew Shephard's murder than the people of Kansas, in general, had a need to be embarrassed by the horrific slayings in Holcomb, Kansas, c. the late 1950's, made famous by Truman Capote's 'In Cold Blood.'" I said no more, and no less.

And since you so readily indulge the accusative, why do you have any problem at all with the Jesse Dirkhising case receiving commentary and comparative treatment? No one is suggesting the Shepard case shouldn't receive attention. The argument is against disproportionate and mendaciously infused attention. Instead of whining, why not simply acknowledge the grievous quality and media issues associated with the Dirkhising case, and then move on? Why do you take on the role of such a reactionary when it's brought up, comparatively or otherwise? Are you somehow threatened? Why any defensiveness whatsoever?
2.10.2009 4:02am
Cobby (mail):
I've lived in Casper—Wyoming's second largest "city"—for 25 years. Allow me to link to that Communist rag, the New York Times, for the comments of the city's then-mayor (but lately re-elected city councilman) as a contribution to this thread:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/national/16casper.html

The vast majority of us don't care who one pokes, provided you're a good neighbor and you don't make it a political issue.
2.10.2009 10:56am
cmr:

Actually, there was. the Family Research Council tried very hard to make all gays responsbile for that murder. And the Washington Times made it front page news as well.


Exactly how did they try to make all gays responsible for that murder? I'm curious, because this sounds like a soundbite and not at all a thoughtful remark. Yes, the Washington Times did do a story on it -- and about the LACK of publicity his death received in comparison.


As noted above, there in fact was a vein. In addition, Andrew Sullivan, prominent gay conservative, made much news about it as well. But hey,don't let the facts get the way of your own victimization.


He made "much news about it" because he attacked what he considers to be the liberal media, and the HRC for their political goals. It's not like he blew the whistle on this story, and I doubt he did more than write an Op-Ed about it. "Much news". Tch. Whatever.


Yes, Michael, I get your argument. Because two gay men killed a boy a few months after Mathew Sheppard was killed, that means that gays (or, as you so kindly refer to us, homosexuals) are prohibited from ever complaining about being killed for being gay.


You shouldn't castigate someone for being victimized, and then turn around and resemble your criticisms. At least, not in the same post.

The gay community to this day care very little about Jesse Dirkhising or his death. Many probably don't even know about him. Now, I don't blame them necessarily -- it's a hard thing to think about, it's shameful even by mild association, and it was a long time ago. BUT, that would be a credible attitude to have IF they didn't so shamelessly ape what happened to Matthew Shepard whenever gay identity issues arise.

The gay community hates when people use conservatism, traditionalism, and religion to justify disagreement with gay political issues, and they use stories like Matthew Shepard to illustrate that there is bigotry and evil in this country targeted at the LGBT community. But, then, what of Jesse Dirkhising? Does that not show, at least, that members of that same community cannot commit equally horrendous acts?

They should use Jesse's story as a way to tell the gay community that not everyone in the community means well and does well. They need to realize that a lot of the subtle and not-so-subtle implications that gay men have pedophilic tendencies aren't just whole cloth fabrications and lies just to disparage them, and stories like Jesse Dirkhising (and the Limon case in Kansas, for that matter) give some validity to those beliefs, even if they don't entirely corroborate them.

But no. People like you want to play up every ill done to members of the LGBT community while sweeping ills down BY members of the LGBT community under the rug. You'll deny that, but your sarcasm and thinly veiled animosity at the mention of Jesse Dirkhising (and by others who, when people mention that Matthew Shepard may not have been killed simply because he was gay, but because of some other primary motive...unlike what they'd been fed by the media) just proves that.

Maybe you need to learn empathy if you expect to receive it.

Nope -- you're right. No point in arguing with your statement,and I won't even try. But I will say this -- when anyone thinks it's okay to kill gay people just for being gay, that attitude doesn't just come from nowhere. It comes from the community. And perhaps if you had seen the play by Moises kaufman, based on his interviews with people in Laramie, you would find that there were quite a few people who think that Mathew Sheppard got what he deserved.

so yes, anyone who thinks that should feel ashamed, and bears some responsibility for his murder.


You're ridiculous, do you know that? Absolutely. Ridiculous.
2.10.2009 3:01pm
james (mail):
Concerning Wyoming. Massachuesetts killed a SSM constitutional amendment in the state legislature. The fact that the Wyoming legislature did the same thing may not be referendom concern the will of the people, but on the will of the legislature.
2.10.2009 3:43pm
Randy R. (mail):
Michael B:" Why any defensiveness whatsoever?"

In the summer of 1998, several anti-gay groups got together and placed several ads in national newspapers and on tv about the dangers of homosexuality. The ads were quite clear -- gays are doomed to a 'deathstyle' that will make them die earlier than other people. It was a direct attack upon the gay community. Churches started to pick up on this and preachers gave sermons on how evil homosexuality is and how God hates us, blah blah blah.

"Last July (1997), things became very public when fifteen organizations belonging to the National Pro-Family Form launched the truth in love campaign, a $ 500, 000 advertising blitz in national newspapers proclaiming that homosexuals to "can change", featuring "ex- gays" who have "walked out of homosexuality into sexual celebrity or even marriage."

A who's who of anti gay groups sponsored the ad campaign—from the Christian Coalition, the AFA, the FRC and American for Truth About Homosexuality -- as well as large media-savvy Christian churches like Coral Ridge Ministries, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The ads drew withering fire from gay—rights activists, who called them hate-filled and homophobic, which the sponsors bitterly denied. And the media, drawn to conflict, gave wide exposure to the ads, from Newsweek (a cover story), to People, and ABC's Nightline." (pflag.com)

Then in October, Matthew Sheppard was attacked. News spread immediately across the country while he remained in critical care in the hospital. The suspects were immediately apprehended and obtained defense counsel. (No, the media blitz was not planned -- It's hard to plan something like that overnight). But coming on the heels of this whole controversy, the media was primed. (Note also that just the year before, gay bars in Atlanta and Washington were bombed by anti-gay criminals. Fear was palpable within the community.)

As soon as arraignment was held, defense counsel indicated that he was going to use the 'gay panic defense.' This defense has been widely used since at least the 60s to get people off. A straight man kills a gay man, claims that the gay man made a pass at him, he went into an understandable rage, and therefore had to kill him. Juries often acquited on this basis.

Understand that: In many cases, you could kill a gay man and get away with murder by simply arguing that your masculinity was challenged. And it worked because the gay man who could deny any of this was dead.

(At least that was a step up. In the 50s and 60s, cops wouldn't even bother investigating cases where gay men were the victims)

When it was clear that the defense was going to use this murder (in effect, admitting that Sheppard WAS in fact killed simply for being gay), gay groups sprang into action. We were NOT going to let someone get away with murder. People like Clayton assume that this was some sort of well coordinated 'vicimitizion' program we had at the ready. It was not. We just didnt' want two punks to get away with murder.

The culture had changed enough by 1997 that people couldn't believe that this was actually a valid defense, and if it was, then it can be no longer. THAT was the momentous effect that this murder had on criminal justice and gay rights. (In the years afterwards, many jurisdictions have sinced banned the gay panic defense, and I hope everyone will agree that is a good thing).

Now, afterwards, the suspects claimed that they did not kill MS because he was gay. If true, then it's even more cynical to use a defense that doesn't square with the facts. Clearly, then, in either case, the gay panic defense was merely a ploy to get away with murder.

So, in other words, you had a perfect storm -- controversy brewing over several months that culminated in a murder. Clayton and others think this was some sort of grand plot on our part to play the victim card. Well, when you ARE the victim, you can play it. But it wasn't some cyncial ploy to slip in some rights unnoticed. It was merely a demand that murderers should pay for their crimes. Only in twisted minds would argue that's a bad thing.

Since then, Matthew's mother Judy has toured the country and has said that the climate in the US from the hateful adsvertising leading up to his death contributed to his killing. Wayne Besen, spokeman for the HRC, said "Words have consequences." Perhaps some people will argue that words do not have consequences -- that's an argument for another day. When you say that gays are not human, that it's okay to gay man just for making a pass at you, then you bear some responsibility if someone actually believes you and acts accordingly.

So what about the Dirkhising murder? So what? Each year, hundreds of people are murdered in the US, and very little national publicity goes into any of them. Most of the murders are by straight people against straight people. So are you responsible? How come you don't come out and condemn each one of them? Well, because they are all fairly routine. In the Dirkhising case, the murderers were quickly caught, and there was no indication that they were going to get away with murder. What more would you have us do? You want condemnation, okay -- you got it -- I condemn the murder. In fact, I'll condemn every murder within the US.

Now, if the killers had said that as their defense they were going to argue that they have a right to kill a straight boy because of all the oppression straight people have done to gays, AND there was even a slight chance that the judge would allow such as defense to be brought to a jury, then you might have a case for outrage. But there was never a danger that justice would not be served in that case. With Matthew Sheppard, however, there was in fact a good chance that the killers would get off. That is the difference.

How does any of this concern you? If you believe that if a person kills another, he should go to jail, then you should be as outraged as I was in those weeks until MS's killers went to jail. The Dirkhising killing, horrible as it was, needed no outrage, since the wheels of justice were turning appropriately, just like we don't have outrage over most any other murders out there. There was no doubt about the outcome. Why people even bring it up, I don't know. Because the murderers were gay? Okay -- not long ago, a gay man killed his partner here in Washington. Where was your outrage then? Where was the press coverage? Or is it reserved only when a gay man kills a straight person? Not a single gay person or group expressed anything other than contempt for the killers. Why is that not enough?

In addition, I should mention that during that summer of the anti-gay ads, a man was standing outside a public restroom holding a purse. Another man looked at him and assumed he was gay, and shot him. It was, fortunately, non fatal. Turns out that the man was holding his wife's purse while she went to the ladies room.

So yes, words do have consequences. If you want to know why I'm defensive, this is why. Anti-gay bigotry affects me, and you, and the people around you. If you go around telling your kids that gays are just fags and they die early and get what they deserve when they get AIDS, as some people do, dont' be surprised if you son attacks a gay person. And you can hardly complain if someone mistakes you or a loved one for a gay person and decides to shoot.

At that point, you will be very happy that we gays created a storm of press in October of 1997 and demanded the end of the gay panic defense.
2.10.2009 7:30pm
cmr:

So what about the Dirkhising murder? So what? Each year, hundreds of people are murdered in the US, and very little national publicity goes into any of them. Most of the murders are by straight people against straight people. So are you responsible? How come you don't come out and condemn each one of them? Well, because they are all fairly routine. In the Dirkhising case, the murderers were quickly caught, and there was no indication that they were going to get away with murder. What more would you have us do? You want condemnation, okay -- you got it -- I condemn the murder. In fact, I'll condemn every murder within the US.


Wow. That's actually...kind of disgusting, Randy.
2.11.2009 12:49am
Putting Two and Two...:
What is disgusting is the cynical use of the Dirkhising murder as a talking point in a thread about same-sex marriage politics in Wyoming.

Tell us, cmr, how it pertains.
2.11.2009 1:46am
cmr:
Well first, you'd have to tell me the Shepard murder pertains to this thread discussing same-sex marriage politics in Wyoming, other than the fact that it happened in Wyoming.
2.11.2009 1:53am
Michael B (mail):
Randy R.,

Yet additional emotively laden finger pointing, triumphalism, presumption and insinuations. You are, none other than, Randy R., and, you will, not be, outdone, hence, I am, put on, notice, that, you will, always and ever, occupy the moral high ground. Sorry, Randy, I'm not going to assume this lowly role you're attempting to assign and, likewise, I don't recognize your moral superiority. Take a sedative.

Again, the question was, why not simply acknowledge the particularly grievous quality of the Jesse Dirkhising murder together with the media aspects - and then move on? But you couldn't do that, rather revealingly to the contrary. Instead, more arrogations and triumphalism and bravado - coupled with a rather repulsive dismissal or marginal regard (if not outright disdain) for the Jesse Dirkhising molestation and murder.

Do you ever even attempt to respond to what is forwarded, absent all the confused, reactionary b.s., the presumption, the arrogations, the triumphalism, the emotively burdened and confused moralizings and bravado? Ever?

Also, absent supportive links/citations, I don't trust your summarizations and depictions of those you deem to be "haters" or whatever your label or depiction du jour might be.

Dialog and engagement take place on a two-way street. By contrast, you expect to be able to drive down a one-way thoroughfare, speeding out of control, assuming I'm going to stand passively in the middle of that thoroughfare while you drive by and spit and sneer a few times, prior to running me down more directly. Not. Going. To. Happen.

These repeated attempts to fulminate and assign roles are strawman fulminations and arguments only. Read. Comprehend. Respond in a coherent fashion. Or don't.

Putting Two and Two,

Let us know all the subject matter you deem to be "disgusting" or otherwise out-of-bounds, because we need to insure we play by your rules, you being the self-assigned, authoritative arbiter.
2.11.2009 2:21am
Michael B (mail):
And btw, there's nothing "cynical" about anything that was forwarded. Holding those you disagree with in contempt, presuming to divine their "evil" motives, marginalizing them, etc. is certainly inline with other motifs that could be "discussed," not least of all the judicial usurpation of democratic processes.
2.11.2009 2:26am
Putting Two and Two...:

Well first, you'd have to tell me the Shepard murder pertains to this thread discussing same-sex marriage politics in Wyoming, other than the fact that it happened in Wyoming.


I believe someone already did that. Whether you believe that the Shepard murder was gay-related or not, there was a great deal of discussion of the status of gay people in Wyoming as a result. Seems reasonable to think that that discussion had an impact on politicians. If nothing else, maybe they don't jump on anti-gay bandwagons so enthusiastically.
2.11.2009 3:30pm
cmr:
It's also interesting that Randy has such a reproachful attitude towards the Dirkhising murder, when his attitude is almost exactly the attitude many in Laramie had towards the Matthew Shepard case. It's not that they agreed with homosexuals being murdered, or that the killers ought to get a slap on the wrist, or that he deserved it, or anything of the sort. They felt like the media played up his murder because he was gay, but there had been gruesome murders not only in other rural areas in the country (i.e. James Byrd) that didn't receive so much media attention, but gruesome crimes in Laramie that no one really spoke of, such as a pregnant fifteen year who was stabbed to death because she had refused to have an abortion and an eight year old girl who had been abducted and raped by a heterosexual pedophile. People acted like because they weren't outraged to the extent that the gay community was that they "condoned" such a thing.

And no, I'm not making this up to be contrary:



Randy, you really do personify what many tend to hate in politically active gays. It's not this ignorant, weak sauce "ew-gay-people-are-icky" schoolyard mentality that plays a part in it. It's the arrogance, the sanctimoniousness, the conceit, and the perpetually put-upon attitude so many of you have that, quite frankly, makes it hard to sympathize with many of your issues. I'd never let someone put down the Matthew Shepard murder in terms of what it meant and the impropriety of his murderers...like you did with Dirkhising. Never. It's one thing to mention matter-of-factly that the motive was probably more about two thugs, high on meth, robbing a defenseless college student than just them targeting him for being gay, than what you did, which is to trivialize the Dirkhising ritualistic rape and murder because plenty of murders happen all the time that don't receive national attention.
2.11.2009 3:40pm
cmr:
Not sure why the link didn't work, but here it is:

http://www.reason.com/news/show/31008.html
2.11.2009 3:41pm
cmr:
I believe someone already did that. Whether you believe that the Shepard murder was gay-related or not, there was a great deal of discussion of the status of gay people in Wyoming as a result. Seems reasonable to think that that discussion had an impact on politicians. If nothing else, maybe they don't jump on anti-gay bandwagons so enthusiastically.


There was a great deal of discussion of gay people by whom in Wyoming as a result? I don't think the people in Wyoming are particularly hesitant to define marriage as being heterosexual (male/female). It's probably a largely unnecessary measure in a state that doesn't have SSM. It was the same issue in AZ when they first tried to amend the Constitution to ban SSM.
2.11.2009 3:48pm
Michael B (mail):
"... but gruesome crimes in Laramie that no one really spoke of, such as a pregnant fifteen year who was stabbed to death because she had refused to have an abortion and an eight year old girl who had been abducted and raped by a heterosexual pedophile. People acted like because they weren't outraged to the extent that the gay community was that they "condoned" such a thing." cmr (with emphasis added because it throws additional light upon PC dogmas and dictates that are not merely highly suspect but additionally are revealing of unconscionable editorial decisions by MSM/ideological/political driven types)

In a word: precisely. This whole idea that certain types of grievous crimes are somehow more grievous than other types of grievous crimes - due to PC dictates that we're all suppose to unthinkingly adopt, due to endless repetitions by 24/7/365 news cum editorialist types, due to the fulminations and arrogations of the Randy Rs of the world, due to other reasons as well - is very much one of the primary social/political/media factors on evidence in all this.

(And in general, it also reflects upon your well tempered commentary throughout this thread, cmr.)
2.11.2009 4:28pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Maybe Michael B and CMR should get married?
2.11.2009 8:22pm
Michael B (mail):
That's some deftly handled wit, Chris.
2.11.2009 11:23pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Michael B.:

Thank you very much. It's one of my subfields.
2.13.2009 7:53pm

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