OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lawyers who are appealing a federal judge's ruling that overturned Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage said in a court filing Monday that legalizing gay marriage would harm children, undermine society and make traditional marriages unstable.
The Alliance Defending Freedom cited courts and anthropologists, saying children are better off in a home with a mother and a father. It said traditional couples would be less likely to marry, or stay together, if marriage became a genderless institution not focused on procreation.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled last month against Tulsa County Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith, whose office refused to grant a marriage license to two women who wanted to marry. Monday's appeal is the first step in the process ahead of an April 17 hearing before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
In its court filing Monday, Alliance said marriages should be about children, not adults.
"Marriage encourages mothers and fathers to remain together and care for the children born of their union," the group's 93-page filing said. Severing the link, it said, "would powerfully convey that marriage exists to advance adult desires rather than serving children's needs."
Citing a court opinion from 1888 - 19 years before Oklahoma's statehood - Alliance said marriage "is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress," and cited a 1978 ruling that said traditional marriage was "fundamental to the very existence and survival of the (human) race."
Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, who had applied for the marriage license, issued a statement Monday night saying Alliance's brief relies "on outdated and debunked science as far as saying that children need both a mother and a father."
"(W)e believe they're wrong that marriage is only about children. While many couples who wish to marry, both heterosexual and homosexual, want children, many others are infertile, are elderly or simply do not want children," they said.
In his ruling, Kern said Oklahoma, by enforcing the ban, violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it precludes same-sex couples from receiving an Oklahoma marriage license.