U.S. District Judge Rules OK Ban On Marriage Equality Unconstitutional


Tuesday, January 14th 2014, 5:42 pm
By: News 9


A U.S. District Judge ruled that Oklahoma's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional.

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC,) U.S. District Judge Terence Kern made the ruling Tuesday afternoon. The ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in Oklahoma.

Read the ruling here.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released the following statement on U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern's ruling that Oklahoma's legal definition of marriage is unconstitutional:

"In 2004, the people of Oklahoma voted to amend the state's constitution to define marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.' That amendment passed with 75 percent support.

"The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma's voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge's ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government."

HRC President Chad Griffin issued the following 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."

Two plaintiff couples, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, filed their case, Bishop v. Oklahoma, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in November 2004. Lead counsel in the case are Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City law firm Holladay & Chilton PLLC.

12/23/2013 Related Story: Brief Filed In Oklahoma Gay Marriage Ban Lawsuit In Federal Court

Representative James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement concerning the ruling,

"This is why the American people are so frustrated with government and government officials; the people speak clearly but elected officials and judges ignore them. In 2004, Oklahomans overwhelmingly decided marriage is a unique institution between a man and a woman. Since the Constitution leaves marriage laws to the states, the State of Oklahoma has the right to define marriage in a way consistent with the values of our state."

The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people..."

"Both the State of Oklahoma and the people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue, and the decision remains clearly within their constitutional bounds," concluded Lankford.

Furthermore, in his dissent opinion for the Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Windsor, Justice Scalia was clear when he stated:… "But no one questions the power of the States to define marriage."