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Utah decision spurs arguments in Oklahoma same-sex marriage case

Attorneys for both sides in the challenge to the Oklahoma ban filed new legal arguments and pushed the judge to make a decision
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 9, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: January 8, 2014

The decision by a federal judge in Utah to strike down that state's ban on same-sex marriage has prompted new legal arguments in the challenge to Oklahoma's law.

Though the two sides differ strongly on the implication of the Utah case, they agree on one thing. They want the federal judge in the Oklahoma case — Terence C. Kern — to make a decision.

The Oklahoma case was filed in 2004, just after state voters approved a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriages in the state or recognition of same-sex marriages from other states.

That same year, Utah voters approved a similar ban. That ban was struck down three weeks ago by a federal judge who ruled that it violated the 14th Amendment's guarantees of due process and equal protection.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering the Utah case. Oklahoma is also part of the 10th circuit, meaning the appeals court decision will be binding on the judge in the Oklahoma case.

The two couples challenging Oklahoma's ban want a decision from Kern before the appeals court rules. They quickly filed a brief after the Utah decision arguing that the cases had several parallels and “virtually the same arguments.”

Don Holladay, attorney for the couples, told the judge their arguments should be heard since the appeals court decision would “undoubtedly govern the disposition and/or enforcement of their rights.”

Nine-year waits

Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin have waited nine years since the Tulsa County clerk denied them a marriage license, and Gay Phillips and Sue Barton have waited nine years to have their marriage recognized, Holladay said in his brief.

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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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