OKLAHOMA CITY – U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled on Tuesday that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The opinion was handed down as part of a lawsuit filed in 2004 by two lesbian couples in Tulsa.
They filed the lawsuit in 2004 after Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed State Question 711, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
It also said same-sex marriages performed in other states would not be recognized in Oklahoma.
In his 68 page opinion, Judge Kern said Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, celebrated the victory in Tulsa on Tuesday night.
Bishop said, “It just has left us elated today. We are so excited. We’ve waited for this for 9 years. And we’re just so happy that the ruling finally came.”
Scott J. Hamilton is the executive director of the Cimarron Alliance Equality Center in Oklahoma City.
Hamilton said, “My husband and I are married but it’s not recognized here in Oklahoma.”
He says the decision changes history in our state.
He said, “A federal judge has ruled in a way that we have known for a long time, that it’s simply unconstitutional to segregate a portion of society and say you cannot have the same rights as everyone else.”
However, not everyone is happy about the decision.
Gov. Mary Fallin issued the following statement:
“In 2004, the people of Oklahoma voted to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’ That amendment passed with 75 percent support. The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. 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.”
Also, Rep. James Lankford sent us a statement, saying, “This is why the American people are so frustrated with government and government officials; the people speak clearly but elected officials and judges ignore them. 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.”
Hamilton said, “If we believe that marriage is the cornerstone of our society, then what difference is it if that marriage is between a man and a woman or two men or two women?”
Same sex marriage licenses will not be issued just yet in our state.
The judge’s ruling is stayed pending the appeal.