A federal judge ruled late yesterday that Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages violates the US constitution.
US District Judge Terence Kern specifically found that Part A of the state constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution by not affording equal benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
“The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationship for many years,” Judge Kern said of one of the couples who challenged the amendment in 2004. “They own property together, wish to retire together, with to make medical decisions for one another, and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities. Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment excludes the Bishop couple, and all otherwise eligible same-sex couples, from this privilege without a legally sufficient justification.”
Kern also cited United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
While Kern’s decision is anothervictory for same-sex marriage rights, Oklahoma same-sex couples cannot marry right away. After what happened in Utah, Kern decided to issue a stay of his decision in anticipation of an appeal by Oklahoma, so that no same-sex couples would marry and then be unsure of their status as appeals proceed through the courts.
Media Resources: New York Times 1/14/14; ThinkProgress 1/14/14; CNN 1/14/14; Feminist Newswire 6/26/13, 10/21/13, 11/14/13, 1/6/14, 1/13/14