An appeal to a ruling declaring
Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage invalid will be expedited, the 10th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver announced Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern put
his 68-page ruling, handed down two weeks ago, on hold, pending an
appeal by the state.
Oklahoma voters in 2004 overwhelmingly
(76%) approved Question 711, which defines marriage as a heterosexual
union. The amendment also prohibits the state from recognizing gay
couples with civil unions.
Oklahoman reported that the same three-judge appeals panel
will hear the Oklahoma case and a similar challenge to Utah's ban.
However, the cases will no be combined into a single appeal.
While the court has not set a date for
oral arguments, legals briefs are to be filed by early April.
Plaintiffs in the case are two gay
couples – Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Gay Phillips and Susan
Barton – who filed their lawsuit shortly after the amendment's
passage in 2004. Kern ruled that Oklahoma's ban “violates the
Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution by precluding same-sex couples from receiving an
Oklahoma marriage license.”