Supreme Court decision bolsters challenge to Oklahoma gay marriage ban, couple argues in state case

The U.S. Supreme Court's move to strike down federal law has ignited a flurry of activity in the long-dormant state challenge to Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage.
by Chris Casteel Modified: July 30, 2013 at 6:03 pm •  Published: July 31, 2013
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— A lesbian couple challenging Oklahoma's ban on gay marriages say the U.S. Supreme Court has bolstered their arguments that the state prohibition is unconstitutional.

The high court's decision last month in a gay marriage case “provides clear and explicit guidance for concluding Oklahoma's marriage ban violates both (the couple's) fundamental right to marry, and the exercise of liberties inherent in such fundamental right,” according to a legal brief filed Monday in the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law barring benefits for same-sex couples, ruling that it violated “basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the federal government.”

The lawsuit against the Oklahoma ban was filed in federal court in Tulsa in 2004 and has been stalled for more than a year as same-sex marriage cases from other states moved toward consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court's decision on the federal Defense of Marriage Act has sparked a flurry of activity in the Oklahoma case in the past two weeks, as the attorney for the couples has pushed U.S. District Judge Terence Kern to issue rulings.

The case was brought by Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, a couple challenging the state ban on gay marriages; and Susan Barton and Gay Phillips, who were married in California and are challenging two sections of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Don Holladay, the attorney representing the couples, filed a motion urging Kern to render a final judgment in regard to the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act struck down by the Supreme Court.

In a separate motion, Holladay says the high-court opinion should also mean that another section of the federal law is unconstitutional; that section, which was not considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, allows states not to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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