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Waiting to wed: Same-sex couples in Oklahoma discuss importance of right to marry

Many gay Oklahoma couples are more optimistic than ever that they'll soon wed after a federal judge in Tulsa in January struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
by Carla Hinton Modified: April 13, 2014 at 11:58 pm •  Published: April 14, 2014

Kenny Wright and Bo Bass remember every detail of the blessing ceremony held in 1996 at their church.

The Oklahoma City gay couple said they wore black tuxedos with purple accessories for the August ceremony at Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N Pennsylvania Ave. They said they stood under an archway decorated for the occasion.

Bass said the ceremony was beautiful, but they still long for the day when they can legally wed in Oklahoma.

“We called it a ‘holy union,’ but for me, I don’t think we ever saw the day when we would be able to put together a regular wedding,” Wright said.

Wright and Bass are among the gay Oklahomans who are waiting to wed.

“It’s a big thing for me just to have the legal rights that everyone else has,” Bass said. “We’re not illegal aliens or anything — we were born in this country. I feel like everyone should have equal rights.”

Optimism abounds

A Tulsa pastor said many gay couples like Wright and Bass are more optimistic than ever after a federal judge in Tulsa in January struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

The ruling is now being considered by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Rev. Tamara Lebak, the first openly gay minister to serve at All Souls Unitarian Church, said she performed a “Blessing of Engagements” in February at her Tulsa church. The event was a statewide engagement party for same-sex couples who want to get married in Oklahoma.

Lebak said the church wanted to show the couples that some faith communities do not condemn them or those they love.

“We believe it is important to show that there is religious support for same-gender couples,” she said. “There is a narrative in our state that no religious Oklahoman supports gay marriage. This narrative is simply not true.”

Lebak said the atmosphere at the engagement party was “infectious,” with more than 400 people from 25 religious institutions attending to support the couples.

“With that large turnout from supporters, clergy and couples, everyone was optimistic that the tides are turning,” she said.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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