Same-Sex Marriages Legal, Underway In Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY - Same sex marriages are now legal in Oklahoma.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court turned down Oklahoma's appeal which reinstates a lower court ruling that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Oklahoma is one of five states that had appealed its case up to the Supreme Court.
Right after the court's rejection to hear the appeal, the Oklahoma County Court Clerk's Office and others across the state started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.
"We have quite a few folks who are ready to walk down the aisle,” said Rev. Lori Walke of Mayflower Congregational Church.
The staff at the church said they are celebrating and ready to start marrying same-sex couples.
“Every time it has been cautious optimism and now I think we are ready to really, fully break out the cake and celebrate,” Walke said.
The Equality Network (TEN) notified numerous couples today that the wait was over.
“It's an amazing day. It's what Oklahomans have been waiting for for years and years and years,” said Troy Stevenson with TEN. “This case has been going on for a decade.”
In 2004, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly decided by a 3-to-1 margin to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. However, a lawsuit following the vote challenged the marriage definition and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the ban was unconstitutional.
That ruling became the final say when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Oklahoma's appeal.
“It is disheartening that the vote of the people could be so easily overturned and the meaning of marriage, which has stood really for thousands of years, could be tried to be redefined,” said Brian Hobbs with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The Equality Network said many same sex couples have been married in every sense of the word for years, but they need that piece of paper to make it legal.
“It's tens of thousands throughout the state that will be allowed to get married,” Stevenson told News 9. “How quickly they will get married, I don't know, because we like to plan our weddings, too.”
Gov. Mary Fallin issued a response to the decision:
“The people of Oklahoma have the right to determine how marriage is defined. In 2004, Oklahomans exercised that right, voting by a margin of 3-1 to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The will of the people has now been overridden by unelected federal justices, accountable to no one. That is both undemocratic and a violation of states' rights.”
“Rather than allowing states to make their own policies that reflect the values and views of their residents, federal judges have inserted themselves into a state issue to pursue their own agendas.”
“Today's decision has been cast by the media as a victory for gay rights. What has been ignored, however, is the right of Oklahomans – and Americans in every state – to write their own laws and govern themselves as they see fit. Those rights have once again been trampled by an arrogant, out-of -control federal government that wants to substitute Oklahoma values with Washington, D.C. values.”