Oklahoma gay rights groups applaud Census decision on couples

BY JOHN A. WILLIAMS Published: April 11, 2010
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/> "We just wanted to make sure that our gay couples who traveled to other jurisdictions and got officially married ... that they register on the census as married, whereas in the past they would have thought it wasn’t legally recognized,” said Toby Jenkins, president of Oklahomans for Equality.

But Michael Jestes, executive director of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, a nonprofit organization promoting family public policy, said allowing gay partners to identify as "husband” or "wife” is ignoring federal and state laws defining marriage.

"Every person answering the census for any matter must abide by the laws governing their federal or state laws, especially defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman,” Jestes said. "So if a law-abiding citizen wants to be accurate they can’t choose their own law to identify with but go by the federal or state law that is defining that particular issue.”

Morris said the legal counsel for the U.S. Commerce Department determined last summer that allowing gay couples to self identify is not in opposition of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Oklahoma. The state approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment also prohibits giving marriage benefits to people who are not married. It declares that same-sex marriages in other states are not valid in Oklahoma.



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