BREAKING: Judge Rules Oklahoma Marriage Equality Ban Unconstitutional

Oklahoma gay marriage ban ruled unconstitutional by judge. Photo of partners Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop.

Oklahoma passed an amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. Now a federal judge has found it unconstitutional. An appeal is expected. Photo of Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop screen captured from news report by News9.Com.

A District Court judge has ruled Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Before we get too excited, though, the ruling has been stayed pending appeal. Of course. Because the bigots just won’t stop fighting against equality for all Americans.

Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional

Judge Terence C. Kern of the U.S. District Court, found the Sooner State’s ban on marriage between gay and lesbian couples to be an “arbitrary irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.” Further, the amendment is based on “moral disapproval” and that the assertion that the ban is in the interest of the welfare of children is not valid. His 68-page decision can be read in full HERE.

The case, brought by plaintiffs Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, has been in the courts for nine years. It was filed in November of 2004, just days after the amendment was passed. They have watched as 17 other states have taken down the barriers to marriage, patiently waiting for their turn. Now that it has come, Sharon Baldwin says they are “over the moon!” Baldwin and Bishop, who both work for the Tulsa World newspaper, took the day off with their boss’s blessing. The pair have been together for 17 years. Kern wrote about them in his decision, saying that they have been…

“… in a loving, committed relationships for many years. 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.”

Human rights groups are optimistic

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, released this statement:

“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.  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 states.”

The HRC is the largest of many groups that is working towards marriage equality for all Americans.

The ruling will be appealed

The decision will not go into effect immediately. Knowing that his ruling will be appealed, just as the same ruling for Utah was, Judge Kern stayed it himself. Less than a month ago, another federal judge ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The state was able to obtain a temporary stay from the Supreme Court, but not before 1,300 couples had wed.

The appeal by both states will be heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver. The Utah appeal is being expedited, with written argument dues in late February. Oklahoma’s appeal may proceed with Utah’s, however, that has not yet been decided.