By Melanie Nathan; 08-25-2010
Yesterday Lez Get Real published a story about the gay couple who, upon being denied a marriage license in their home state of Wyoming, filed a law suit in the Federal Court last week, challenging the constitutionality of the Wyoming law that declares marriage to be between male and female, only.
The couple from Cheyenne David Shupe-Roderick, 25, and Ryan Dupree, 21, filed the lawsuit Aug. 13 after the Laramie County Clerk’s Office refused to issue them a marriage license.
In that article we questioned the competency of the Plaintiffs to self represent in a case as important as this, especially after reading the complaint, which we believed, would not adequately serve this lawsuit.
We contacted several LGBT legal minds and members of our LGBT community to get their feelings on the case. The general consensus was, not only should the couple NOT be self representing, but also should reconsider bringing their case at all, as the it may not be in the short term or long term interests of the national marriage equality debate and the current course of cases already before the Courts.
However In looking further into the matter, Lezgetreal uncovered information about the Plaintiff, David Shupe-Roderick; it appears that a perhaps seasoned Jailhouse lawyer may be taking on Wyoming marriage equality.
When I spoke yesterday to David Shupe-Roderick I was taken by his naivity – or so I thought! I really believed that only someone naive and ill prepared for reality would take on such an endeavor. However, Admittedly I was wrong.
There are two instances of Shupe-Roderick suing the Department of Corrections. See
No. 07-8087 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT 290 Fed. Appx. 164; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 18588 August 25, 2008; where Shupe moved to dismiss an appeal as it involved his claims alleging discussion of personal information by prison staff, gender-based discrimination, inadequate mental health care, inadequate medical care, and excessive use of force. The motion to dismiss the case was granted. Yes Shupe was in prison apparently, and represented himself – with court documents stating – COUNSEL: GERALD DAVID SHUPE, Jr. (State Prisoner: 23153), Plaintiff – Appellant, Pro se.
Then yet another case where Shupe- Roderick appears to be Plaintiff in a Child support case, Shupe-Roderick v. Wyoming Child Support Services et al, Case Number -2:2010cv00033, under cause- 42:1983 Civil Rights Act.
We also uncovered information indicating that on May 28, 2010 Gerald D. Shupe-Roderick, 25, was arrested by the Cheyenne Police Department, for felony filing of false documentation http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/wyoming-tribune-eagle/mi_8203/is_20100528/blotters-briefs/ai_n53999280/
I sent an email with this links to Shupe today, but have yet to receive a response. I went out on a limb yesterday, sending e-mail to my numerous contacts to see if anyone would be willing to provide legal assistance to the Plaintiffs in the hope of avoiding a crush to marriage equality.
Now based on these facts, I must retract, noting that not only is it a bad idea to file in pro per, in a matter of this nature that impacts an entire minority population, or even to file at all in Wyoming at this time, but the emergence of these facts may serve to disqualify Mr Shupe, notwithstanding his right to equal treatment and remedies under the law, as the most appropriate face for marriage equality in Wyoming at this time.
While the motive of the couple may well be pure and their right to equal treatment profoundly innate, this lawsuit could pose a serious threat to marriage equality generally and it is my hope that this couple would re-consider how to approach their quest for equality – perhaps through withdrawal for the good of marriage equality in the long term.
As Shupe said, he did not expect the case to get this much attention and for that reason alone, he should consider consulting with the LGBT groups such as NCLR or LAMBDA Legal to check in and ascertain whether they should continue or not.
UPDATED: Since posting this Article last night, Lez Get Real has obtained the following comments from leaders in the LGBT Community:-
” Clearly this couple should have the freedom to marry, and every day they are denied marriage is unfair and wrong. But filing a lawsuit is only one way to challenge discrimination, and without careful groundwork and good timing, can actually set the cause and other couples back. The best way to maximize the chances of winning, in addition to smart and solid lawyering, is helping more people in Wyoming understand who their gay neighbors are, and why marriage matters, thereby creating a climate that encourages and empowers a court to do the right thing.”