WASHINGTON — The attorney for a lesbian couple challenging Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is trying to prod a federal judge into making a decision in the long-running case.
In a motion filed Tuesday, Norman attorney Don G. Holladay told U.S. District Judge Terence C. Kern that his clients have claimed unequal protection and treatment and want the court “to vindicate constitutionally protected rights.”
“Under such circumstances, resolution of these claims should not be postponed indefinitely,'' Holladay wrote.
Because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, Kern actually has fewer issues — and fewer parties — before him in the Oklahoma case. Still, Holladay noted to the judge on Tuesday, the Oklahoma case has been either on hold or under advisement for more than two years.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Tulsa nearly nine years ago, a day after Oklahoma voters approved a state ballot question to ban same-sex marriage.
Mary Bishop and her partner, Sharon Baldwin, challenged the state question. Susan G. Barton and Gay E. Phillips challenged two sections of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples and allowed states not to recognize gay marriages from other states.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, ruling that the federal government could not deny benefits to same-sex couples.
After that decision, the U.S. Justice Department filed a motion in the Oklahoma case saying that Kern no longer has to rule on the federal benefits question. The U.S. House of Representatives' legal office, which was defending the law, withdrew from the Oklahoma case.
Holladay told Kern on Tuesday that the Oklahoma lawsuit “is one of several cases in state and federal courts across the country addressing same-sex marriage in the aftermath and wake of the (Supreme Court) decision. The Supreme Court's opinion can reasonably be interpreted as signaling state marriage bans will need future resolution by the court.”