A federal judge on Tuesday declared
Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
“The Court declares that Part A of
the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment 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,” U.S. District Judge Terence Kern said in his 68-page
ruling, which he stayed pending an appeal.
Question 711, which defines marriage as
a heterosexual union, was approved by 76 percent of voters in 2004.
The amendment also prohibits the state from recognizing gay couples
with civil unions.
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
“Judge Kern has come to the
conclusion that so many have before him – that the fundamental
equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United
States Constitution,” said
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate. “With last year's historic
victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we
are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the
coasts anymore, and today's news from Oklahoma shows that time has
come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50
The ruling comes on the heels of a
similar decision in Utah. Also a federal judge in Ohio found that
the state must recognize the out-of-state marriages of gay couples on
death certificates. In making his ruling, the judge said Ohio's
marriage ban was unconstitutional.
judge rules Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.)