State Rep. Jeanette Ward, R-Casper, issued a scathing statement Monday condemning Enroll Wyoming for supporting Casper Pride Fest.
Ward believes that the LGBTQ movement runs contrary to the concept of a nuclear family and wants publicly funded groups like Enroll Wyoming to not sponsor events that support and advance these causes.
“If Enroll Wyoming truly wanted to advocate for increasing insurance coverage levels across the state of Wyoming, this entity would not advocate for a lifestyle that results in the exact opposite of the nuclear family,” Ward said in her statement.
Enroll Wyoming provides informational resources to people who don’t have health insurance or who are underinsured to explore their options on the public insurance marketplace. The organization was a vendor at Casper Pride Fest this June and promoted the event on its social media pages.
Ward had previously called out Casper businesses this summer for their support of Pride Fest.
Ward clarified to Cowboy State Daily that because LGBTQ couples cannot directly procreate with each other, they do not fit her definition of a nuclear family.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, who is gay, has raised two foster children with his husband and disagrees with Ward.
“I support the nuclear family as much as anyone,” he said. “We work as hard as we can. There’s lots of days where we say we could be doing better, just like any other parent.”
Zwonitzer’s oldest child is 19 and attending college. He believes that he and his partner provide the same quality of parenting and child rearing as a heterosexual couple, he said. There are many people in America and around the world who have been raised by LGBTQ couples who have gone on to live normal, successful lives and no substantiated evidence exists that they are less capable of parenting.
Ward said family stability, not someone’s LGBTQ status, determines whether they are more or less likely to have health insurance.
A preponderance of scientific research has shown that a nuclear family with two parents creates an environment most conducive to socioeconomic well-being, which directly connects to one’s ability to attain and keep quality health insurance.
Zwonitzer agrees with Ward about the importance of having two parents raising a child.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to raise our children so they are not in the foster system,” he said. “Parenting is tough. Single parenting is superbly difficult.”
Enroll Wyoming receives its funding from the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services at the federal level, from which it must compete for grants to support itself.
During a September legislative meeting of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, program director Jason Mincer explained his group’s purpose.
“We are there if folks choose to move forward with a Medicare, Medicaid or marketplace application,” he said.
Zwonitzer, like Ward, said seeing publicly funded agencies like Enroll Wyoming sponsoring events like Pride Fest, which could be seen as political or making a political statement, gives him some pause.
“I always raise my eyebrows a lot when I see groups that receive their budget from the federal government advertising at events like that,” he said. “I have some issues with that as well.”
But he also said groups like Enroll Wyoming are often simply fulfilling their advertising and promotion budgets for the year.
Enroll Wyoming was a vendor at Pride Fest, which requires a $100 registration fee, based on 2024 registration requirements for nonprofits at the event. Other government-funded groups that participated as vendors were Converse County Public Health, the University of Wyoming, Wyoming Health Council and the Red Cross.
Ward said she was told by Enroll Wyoming that it supported the event because it considers the LGBTQ population a priority population because its members are less likely to have health care and access to quality health care, a sentiment Zwonitzer said he agrees with.
Ward said publicly funded entities should not be supporting events that are political or socially charged.
“Enroll Wyoming, an entity funded by our tax dollars, should not be supporting a political and social agenda, and I do not buy their excuse,” she said in her statement.
Ward also said the fact that Enroll Wyoming relies on government and taxpayer money “is typical of government cronyism.”
Mincer was not immediately able to immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment about Ward’s press release.
He said during the September committee meeting that there are no sales goals or commissions offered to Enroll Wyoming employees for signing people up for the marketplace. But he did express a desire for more people to use their services and said that his organization could handle more people.
“We are the resource that can help them,” he said.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.