By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
A movement by some Fremont County Republican Party leaders to publicly condemn Wyoming U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis for supporting same-sex marriage legislation failed Saturday, as did two votes to send her strongly worded letters.
Respect For Marriage Act
Lummis, a Republican, in November was among 12 Republican senators who broke ranks to vote in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which has since become law.
Crafted as a safety net in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its own nationwide protection of same-sex marriage, the act compels all U.S. states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it is permitted by law.
It also contains provisions that aim to protect religious organizations, which Lummis said was a main reason she voted for it.
Lummis’ office did not respond Tuesday morning to an email requesting comment on the censure attempt.
As a result of Lummis’ vote, Karl Falken, a precinct committeeman in the Fremont County Republican Party Central Committee, brought a censure resolution against Lummis to the committee’s Saturday meeting.
Falken told Cowboy State Daily that the censure didn’t gain enough support to reach a vote.
After that, Falken said, the county party’s chair Ginger Bennett offered a resolution to send a letter of admonishment to Lummis. That effort also failed, as did a subsequent vote to send Lummis a generic letter addressing the issue on the committee’s behalf.
Falken said the votes failed “narrowly.”
John Brown, who is another precinct committeeman in Fremont County and who voted against rebuking Lummis, said the votes were about two-thirds against and one-third in favor of admonishing Lummis.
Bennett did not respond Tuesday to a voicemail requesting comment.
Certain Points Past Compromise
Falken told Cowboy State Daily he brought the censure in spite of a report from Lummis’ office that the senator has a 94% conservative voting record.
Normally, he said, the committee will only censure Republican officials who fall below an 80% conservative voting record. But Lummis’ vote to expand same-sex marriage rights created an exception.
“Our state (party) chairman W. Frank Eathorne said in his opinion (on the bill) there are certain absolute truths the party cannot compromise on,” said Falken, referencing the state Republican Party’s public rebuke of Lummis after her vote. “I think there are certain points where we can’t really compromise.”
Falken said he disputes that provisions in the Respect for Marriage Act don’t allow non-religious organizations to opt-out of participating in same-sex marriage rites under the act.
He noted that a coalition of 2,000 faith leaders sent a letter to the Senate last fall urging it not to pass the Respect for Marriage Act expanding same-sex marriage rights
“The bill (also) does add new authority to the federal Attorney General to sue state officials, which is a huge problem,” said Falken.
County Platform Doesn’t Address Gay Marriage
Though the state and national Republican Party platforms define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the Fremont County Party platform does not.
Falken said he hopes to change that in future meetings.
Brown said the county Party shouldn’t have taken up the issue Saturday since it wasn’t on its platform.
“When we talk about Fremont County GOP meetings, we should only be talking about the Fremont County platform – not the state platform,” said Brown.
Brown said he voted against a letter of admonishment and the generic letter – and opposed the censure effort – because he finds the issue divisive and believes it should not be a priority for the county Republican Party going forward.
“This is where the party is heading, at least with this gentleman (Falken) anyway,” said Brown. “And we really need some clear-thinking and discerning Republicans to attend these events.”
Brown said he would like to see the party “do away with the divisiveness post-haste … but it’s going to take a while, I’m afraid.”