U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern recently ruled the Oklahoma law restricting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the U.S. Constitution. The judge expects his ruling will be appealed; therefore, no marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples until the battle is over.
In the 68-page ruling, the judge wrote, “The court holds that Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
The Jan. 14 decision dealt primarily with Part A of the Oklahoma Constitution that states, “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”
Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment was first challenged in 2004 by two lesbian couples. Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, who work at the Tulsa World newspaper, filed the Oklahoma lawsuit along with another same-sex couple in 2004.
“The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationship for many years,” Kern wrote. “They own property together, wish to retire together, wish to make medical decisions for one another and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities.”
In a statement, Governor Mary Fallin said, “I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge’s ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government.”
Oklahoma Representative James Lankford released a statement saying, “In 2004, Oklahomans overwhelmingly decided marriage is a unique institution between a man and a woman. Since the Constitution leaves marriage laws to the states, the state of Oklahoma has the right to define marriage in a way consistent with the values of our state.”
Currently, 17 states and Washington D.C. allow same sex couples to get married. According to an article published by NPR, there are currently 43 same-sex lawsuits in courts, with 27 of those in federal court. Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is the third to be struck down by a federal judge, after California and Utah.