Gay marriage rulings won't affect Oklahoma's ban, Oklahoma attorney general says

Questions remain about whether same-sex couples living in Oklahoma will receive the federal benefits denied under a federal law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 26, 2013

Also in his dissent, Scalia raised questions about the effect of the ruling in states, like Oklahoma, where same-sex marriages aren't recognized.

“Imagine a pair of women who marry in Albany and then move to Alabama, which does not ‘recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex,'” Scalia wrote. “When the couple files their next federal tax return, may it be a joint one?

“Which State's law controls, for federal-law purposes: their State of celebration (which recognizes the marriage) or their State of domicile (which does not)? (Does the answer depend on whether they were just visiting in Albany)?”

Scott Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance in Oklahoma City, whose same-sex marriage was performed in Connecticut, said Wednesday that he had been assured by attorneys the federal benefits would be available to couples despite their states' laws.

But the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said in a news release that “legally married same-sex couples (and widows or widowers) who have moved to — or now live in — a state that discriminates against their marriages, may face barriers to their federal marital protections. We will fight to ensure couples have access to vital benefits.”

Hamilton said there would be “lots of challenges we'll have to work through.”

President Barack Obama hailed the decision striking down the benefits section of DOMA and said he had directed Attorney General Eric Holder to review federal laws “to ensure this decision, including its implications for federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”

In an interview, Nickles, who now runs a lobbying company in Washington, said he was disappointed and frustrated in the court's decision.

Congress approved the law and has the power to repeal it, Nickles said, noting that Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House when President Barack Obama took office.

“I happen to be a believer in the Democratic process,” he said, adding that “five unelected justices” had usurped the will of Congress.

Nickles said he also took umbrage at language in the majority decision saying that lawmakers had set out to discriminate against people.

At the time the bill was passed, no states allowed same-sex marriage.

“The main pillar of the bill was that states didn't have to recognize gay marriages from other states,” Nickles said.

That section of the bill was not challenged and not addressed by the high court.


by Steve Lackmeyer
Reporter Sr.
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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