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.