Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oklahoma? Okay!

I was stunned when marriage equality became legal — however briefly … for now — in Utah, but I am equally shocked now after a federal judge in Oklahoma — let that sink in — ruled this week that the state’s constitutional amendment which banned same-sex marriages violates the US Constitution.

Now, that doesn’t mean The Gays are flocking to Oklahomo to tie the knot, because that Oklahoma Judge, Terrence Kern — obviously no relation to Sally, though that would have been something eh? — stayed his decision in anticipation of an appeal by the state to the same appeals court where the Utah case is being heard. But Kern did say, in his ruling, that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.”

Arbitrary. Irrational. Word.

The amendment, Kern said, is based on “moral disapproval” and does not advance the state’s asserted interests in promoting heterosexual marriage or the welfare of children. And by that he means, that old anti-marriage equality chestnut that allowing The Gays to marry somehow weakens opposite-sex marriage, or somehow damages the children, is a ridiculous, unfounded, and possibly stupid argument.

The challenge to Oklahoma’s Hate Amendment was filed by two lesbian couples: Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop who sought the right to marry in Oklahoma, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, who were legally married in California, who sought to have their marriage recognized by the state.

Kern’s decision marks the third time a federal court has acted to void a state constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage, following the Utah decision last month, and the 2010 ruling in California that eventually overturned Proposition 8. It was the state courts of New Mexico, in December, and New Jersey, in October, which ruled in favor of marriage equality, calling it illegal discrimination under those state constitutions; Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts all had similar rulings form their state courts. In the eleven, eleven, other states same-sex marriage was approved by legislatures or by popular vote.

Still, there are some 30 states that have passed amendments or laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman but after the Supreme Court decision last June that declared parts of DOMA unconstitutional, nearly all of those states are being subjected to lawsuits by same-sex couples of LGBT advocacy groups.

Naturally though, not all Oklahomans are cheering Judge Kern’s ruling. The states’ virulently anti-LGBT Governor, Marry Fallin—who, you’ll remember ordered the National Guard to refuse to register all spouses, straight and gay, for benefits rather than allow the spouses of gay National Guard soldiers to do so—is unhappy:
"In 2004, the people of Oklahoma voted to amend the state's constitution to define marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’ That amendment passed with 75 percent support. The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma's voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge's ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government."
Oh Mary, dear sweet shy stupid naïve Mary. Why don’t we let the people of Oklahoma vote on your rights as an American? How would you like that? How would you like strangers deciding what you can and cannot do based on some irrational argument about sanctity of marriage and God’s law and procreation?

The arguments against same-sex marriage are illogical and we are seeing the results now, with legislatures, state legislatures, the people of certain states, and the judicial branches of both the state and federal governments, realizing that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is discrimination.

And that’s wrong, no matter how you try to slice it. 

via HRC and NYT


Mitchell is Moving said...

I saw this is in the news this morning and couldn't believe it.

anne marie in philly said...

one state at a time...progress marches on!

Biki Honko said...

First the shocker of Utah, and now Oklahoma? Damn, equality is sure gaining momentum, finally!

I read today where there are court cases pending in most anti-equality states, and Alaska is going to be an uphill battle all the way. There are large pockets of extreme right winger xtians, who have easily shot down each and every attempt to pass bills protecting lgbt from discrimination. This will be an ugly, ugly fight.

the dogs' mother said...

Once again, waving from Washington State, a home of equality marriage and The Engineer and I are still married! Our kids are fine too!

Ron said...

The politicians who oppose marriage equality in states like Utah and Oklahoma are fighting a losing battle and they know it. I think they're just taking their stance to keep in office or because they lack the backbone and political courage to do the right thing. The Supreme Court will eventually decide these cases but I'm starting to get a queasy feeling that the judges are gong to take a step back (two steps forward and one back and rule against marriage equality. I don't put anything past them. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

designing wally said...

The reddest state and also the state with the highest divorce rate in the country, imagine that. I have also noticed that both this and the Utah decision that the judges fairly quoted the supreme justices, making it hard for them to go against themselves...