Supreme Court rulings could affect Oklahoma ban on gay marriage

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make groundbreaking decisions about gay marriage in America. The court's rulings could affect Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Staff Writer ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: March 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm •  Published: March 26, 2013

What is the court considering?

On Tuesday, justices heard arguments about California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage in the state. Wednesday, justices will hear arguments about the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which is a federal law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Decisions in the cases are expected by June, when the court recesses for the summer.

Oklahoma law outlaws same-sex marriage and does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states where the practice is legal. Issuing a marriage license for gay couples is a misdemeanor offense here.

What could happen?

The Supreme Court could rule one of several ways on each of the issues, said Joseph Thai, presidential professor of law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Here are some of the more likely options:

The court upholds the Defense of Marriage Act: Nothing changes in Oklahoma. The state doesn't have to recognize same-sex couples married in other states, and the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage stays in place, Thai said.

The court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act: All states, including Oklahoma, must recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and therefore provide the same legal rights and benefits as heterosexual couples married in other states. However, Oklahoma does not have to grant homosexual couples the right to marry within the state. But state bans on same-sex marriage will likely fall in coming years. Thai said he thinks the court is likely to rule this way.

The court upholds Proposition 8: Nothing changes in Oklahoma.

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