OKLAHOMA CITY – The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has made a major ruling in the case of Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage.
The ruling states Oklahoma’s law is unconstitutional, saying same-sex couples have a Constitutional right to marry.
Gay rights advocates hailed it as another step toward equality.
“We are thrilled with this ruling,” said Scott Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance. “It marks a major step forward in the march toward equality for all people. There are those who will decry this ruling saying, ‘But the people have spoken!’ Indeed, they have; in much the same way that the majority supported slavery in an earlier time. The Supreme Court has clearly affirmed, and this ruling underscores, that when it comes to rights, privileges, and responsibilities, it is the Constitution- not the people- that prevails.”
“We’re on the right side of history. We’re on the right side of the constitution. States rights can’t trump the constitution,” said attorney Joseph Thai.
In January, a federal judge ruled Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Back in 2004, Oklahoma voters put a ban on same-sex marriage in the state Constitution.
That’s why many statehouse Republicans have called the federal court rulings an intrusion into state rights.
“These guys are out of control,” said state representative Mike Reynolds. “It’s an overreach by 2 judges that have no understanding the moral principles this country was founded on.”
Across the country, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow gay couples to wed.
In all, 22 rulings in recent months have found that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued the following statement in response to the ruling:
“In 2004, voters had an opportunity to decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriage in Oklahoma. Seventy-six percent voted not to, and to instead define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. I was one of the many voters who cast my ballot in favor of traditional marriage.
“Today’s ruling is another instance of federal courts ignoring the will of the people and trampling on the right of states to govern themselves. In this case, two judges have acted to overturn a law supported by Oklahomans. Their decision will be appealed and, I hope, overturned. As governor, I will continue to fight back against our federal government when it seeks to ignore or change laws written and supported by Oklahomans.
The ACLU also issued a statement on the ruling.
“Today’s decision is a victory not just for gay and lesbian Oklahomans, but for all people who value liberty, equality, and justice,” said Brady Henderson, Legal Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Today’s ruling brings us a big step closer to marriage equality and confirms that the United States Constitution protects freedom to marry for all Americans. That protection ensures the decision of whom to love remains our own, not our government’s.”
The fight isn’t over.
Governor Fallin promised to appeal the appeals court ruling.
Despite today’s ruling, Oklahoma’s same sex couple cannot yet apply to get married.
The appeals court ruling is on hold until the issue is appealed to the United States Supreme Court.