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U.S. Supreme Court justices asked to review Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban

Tulsa County court clerk files petition saying a federal appeals court has taken away the right of people to debate the issue of same-sex marriage.
by Chris Casteel Modified: August 6, 2014 at 8:14 pm •  Published: August 6, 2014

The Tulsa County court clerk asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to review a federal appeals court decision striking down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down Oklahoma’s ban last month, removed the right of citizens to debate the issue of same-sex marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court should “return to the People this critical issue of marriage policy,” court clerk Sally Howe Smith says in the petition.

The Oklahoma same-sex marriage ban was the second this week to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the state of Utah asked the high court justices to review the decision by the same appeals court that struck down Oklahoma’s ban.

The same three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit court heard the Oklahoma and Utah cases, which were considered on a parallel track but decided separately. In both, the court ruled 2-1 that the state bans violated 14th Amendment guarantees to due process and equal protection under the law.

Voters in Oklahoma and Utah overwhelmingly approved the bans in 2004.

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, of Tulsa County, sued Smith when the clerk declined the couple’s request for a marriage license. A federal judge in Tulsa ruled in January for the couple and the appeals court upheld that ruling.

Smith is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group based in Arizona.

Byron Babione, senior legal counsel for the group, said Wednesday, “The people of every state should retain the freedom to preserve marriage if they so choose.

“Courts shouldn’t decide the legal destiny of marriage in any state, let alone in every state.”

Norman attorney and law professor Joseph Thai, part of the legal team representing Bishop and Baldwin, said, “We will review this petition carefully and file an appropriate response.

“We are confident the highest court in the country will uphold the highest law of the land and affirm the constitutionally protected equality and fundamental right of all Americans — gay, lesbian, or straight — to marry the person whom they love. We look forward to the day — now closer than ever — when our clients and other same-sex couples will attain for themselves and their families the equal dignity and protections of marriage, and at the same time strengthen the institution of marriage through their committed unions.”

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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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