Wyoming Celebrates Women’s Suffrage

Luis with Marian Orr, the first woman to serve as mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming 

On December 10, 1869, the Wyoming Territory officially gave women the right to vote. One hundred fifty years later, Governor Mark Gordon proclaimed October 10 as Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day. He addressed an enthusiastic crowd at a ceremony in Cheyenne, the state capital. (Wyoming became a state in 1890.)

“Women have made this state what it is, and we recognize that today,” Gordon said. He noted that soon after women in the Wyoming Territory got the right to vote, they began to serve as lawmakers and leaders in the community.

It was not until 1920 that women across the United States were granted the right to vote, with passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. 



At the ceremony in Cheyenne, I spoke with Mayor Marian Orr. She is the first woman to be elected mayor of the city. I asked how women’s suffrage has affected Wyoming.

“We’ve had some female leaders who’ve made great changes, including the first female justice of the peace,” Orr said. “Had it been all men, I think we would have seen different laws that were not as representative of our entire community and our state.”

Katie Bailey, a third-grade teacher at my school, Alta Vista Elementary, agrees that opportunities have increased because of women's suffrage. Bailey’s mother was not allowed to play sports in high school even though she and her classmates were willing to pay the cost of a team.

By the time Bailey went to high school, Title IX, which outlaws gender discrimination in athletics and education, had been passed.

“I got to do anything I wanted,” Bailey said. “I grew up having all these opportunities and really took it for granted. There were wonderful people who had already paved the way in Wyoming.”

Lyric Gay, a fifth grader at Alta Vista, plays football on a co-ed team. She, too, has women in her family who weren’t allowed to play sports. If Lyric had gone to school in those days, she said, she “would have worked to change things.”

Photo courtesy of the author