Oklahoma Marriage Ban Unconstitutional, Rules Federal Court

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Federal Court Rules Oklahoma Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, and that couples should be able to wed. This is the second time a three-judge panel has found that a state’s ban is unconstitutional. In June, the same panel came to the same conclusion around Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Now marriages for same-sex couples both in Oklahoma and Utah will remain on hold. This is the 26th consecutive federal or state court ruling to come down on the side of marriage equality since the Windsor ruling in June 2013.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, the 2-1 decision was written by Judge Carlos Lucero, who was joined by President George W. Bush appointee Judge Jerome Holmes. Those jurists were the same who voted to strike down Utah’s marriage ban in the June decision.

The state of Oklahoma has the chance to request an appeal before the full bench of the Tenth Circuit. Alternately, the case could also bypass that and be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Couples Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, sued the state of Oklahoma in November 2004 for enforcing an amendment to the Oklahoma constitution prohibiting the state from performing or recognizing marriages for same-sex couples.

In January, two days after Judge Terence Kern’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the state filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

The Bishop case in Oklahoma was scheduled for appeal with the Utah marriage case, Kitchen v. Herbert. The appeals on both cases were heard by the same three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit, in April.

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