As we watched Egyptians successfully use social media like Facebook to mount nation-changing demonstrations, it occurred to me to experiment with that in Wyoming. And so, my wife and I are going to burn our marriage license on the front step of the Wyoming Capitol Building and we invite fair minded fb friends to join us!
State issued marriage licenses will soon become little more than licenses for discrimination. If HB 74 passes the legislature and is allowed by Governor Mead to become law, Wyoming will begin issuing licenses limiting important Constitutional and God given rights to a select group of people chosen by the state to enjoy certain protections of the law while denying the same to others. A marriage license will be far more than a symbol of discrimination. It will become a tool by which discrimination is officially sanctioned.
Just as many states once used a tax receipt and a certification of literacy to deny people of color the right to vote, so now Wyoming plans to use a piece of state-issued paper to strip same sex persons of - to quote from HB74 - “the legal obligations, responsibilities, protections or benefits afforded or recognized by the law of Wyoming to married (i.e. heterosexual) persons and spouses, whether they derive from statute, administrative rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil or criminal law.
A lot of young people have already decided that piece of paper doesn’t mean much. Increasing numbers of them are sharing their lives, raising children and living together without having applied for a marriage license. However, that piece of paper does embody important legal protections for children and families including property rights and other legal rights, medical care, child custody and more.
Unlike draft cards which were afforded statutory protection from symbolic acts of otherwise free speech, there is no law against burning your marriage license. Joining this protest won’t get you arrested, nor will it mean you are no longer married. But it will be an important act of solidarity and protest. All of us should be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have been singled out for the wrath of some legislators. This will also be a distinctive way to say tell legislators and the Governor how much we disdain using our rights to distance us from others.
Who will join us?