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Gay Marriage Update: Wyo. Says OK; Puerto Rico Judge Says No

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 31, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In case you missed it, Wyoming became the 32nd state to legalize gay marriage, with the state's attorney general giving his OK last week.

According to Reuters, a federal district court struck down the Equality State's same-sex marriage ban in mid-October, but stayed its ruling to give the state time to appeal. But Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael decided against appealing the decision, allowing gay marriage to proceed last Tuesday.

What does America's gay marriage picture look like now?

Filling Out the Middle

With same-sex marriage already allowed in many "liberal"-leaning coastal states like Massachusetts and California, the last few months have seen many "conservative" interior states allow gay marriage as well. In the past few weeks, Alaska, Arizona, and Montana have all come to allow gays and lesbians to marry in their states, as well as recognize gay marriages from other states.

For many in Wyoming, this comes as a change in attitude for the better. As The Associated Press is astute to note, the state's legalization of gay marriage comes a few days after the 16th anniversary of the brutal beating death of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man who attended the University of Wyoming.

Even though the state's population is the smallest in the union, the shift still stands as a symbolic turn for gay rights advocates.

Puerto Rico Judge Upholds Ban

Lest we forget that Puerto Rico is part of the United States (and it is), America's largest territory has chosen to continue denying same-sex marriage. Following a federal judge's decision to uphold the ban on gay marriage last week, the territory is now the only jurisdiction within the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that won't allow gays to marry. Same-sex marriage is legal in the other 1st Circuit states: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The Huffington Post reports that this contrast may bring the issue of gay marriage back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Native Tribes Don't Recognize State Decisions

Although traditionally conservative states like Arizona have now legalized gay marriage, it may not mean that Native American tribal governments have to follow suit. Arizona State University's Cronkite News reports that the Navajo Nation has prohibited gay marriage since 2005, and the tribe's current president is against changing it. Given the sovereign nature of tribal governments, it may take a decision within the tribe to change things.

Still, as of Friday, 32 U.S. states allow gay marriage, and there may be even more in the coming months.

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