BREAKING: Federal Judge Strikes Down Oklahoma’s Marriage Equality Ban

Baldwin BishopFirst Utah, now Oklahoma. Federal District Judge Terence Kern ruled Tuesday that the state’s ban on marriage equality violated the U.S. Constitution, calling the ban “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit” based on “moral disapproval.” The ruling strikes down a state constitutional amendment enshrining the ban on same-sex weddings.

The ruling came in the case of two couples–Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton–who filed their challenge to the amendment in 2004, shortly after voters overwhelmingly passed it. The women got little attention for their bravery, as most of the focus went to the challenge to California’s Proposition 8.

That changed on Tuesday. “We’re jubilant, we’re over the moon,” said Sharon Baldwin.

Unfortunately, the ruling doesn’t mean marriage equality is now legal in Oklahoma. Kern issued a stay, meaning that the ban remains in place while the state files its appeal.

Kern forcefully argued that it doesn’t matter if most Oklahomans think marriage equality should be forbidden. “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed,” Kern said. “It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”

“Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

Coming on the heels of the Utah ruling, the Oklahoma decision further complicates the Supreme Court’s “let the states decide” strategy behind its DOMA ruling. If the justices thought that the issue would work itself out over the course of years, as the public became accustomed to the idea of marriage equality, they were mistaken. It seems likely that the Court will have to take up the issue again soon to resolve once and for all whether the piecemeal approach is at all viable.

Photo credit: Freedom to Marry

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #chadgriffin #gayphillips #humanrightscampaign(hrc) stories and more


  • hyhybt

    “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed,” Kern said. “It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions.”

    What a beautiful quote! Definitely saving that one.

  • Ridpathos

    @hyhybt: I was just about to same the same thing.

  • HirsuteOne

    Thank you, ladies, for your bravery, determination and perseverance.

  • Will L

    This has to be chapping Mary Falin’s ass. :)

  • TheNewEnergyDude

    Way to go Honorable Judge Kern. All of his arguments put very eloquently.

  • Charlie in Charge

    That wavin’ wheat sure smells sweet.

  • Icebloo

    “Unfortunately, the ruling doesn’t mean gay marriage is now legal in Oklahoma”. Well of course it doesn’t – this is America – we have to BUY our rights. Lawyers & politicians will get richer and richer off of us as we raise more and more money to BUY the rights we should already have. They want us to raise millions more dollars in EVERY state and all that money goes into the pockets of lawyers and politicians. The gay rights movement has made some lawyer millionaires.

    When will Americas wake up to how corrupt and shi##y the American system is ? Why do people just accept this ?

  • Harley

    @Icebloo: the same reason America puts up with every crack-pot paranoid sociopath screaming “second amendment” and running out to buy AK-47 assault rifles and then turning around and shooting someone in a movie theatre for texting their 4 year old during movie previews. What a country.

  • Steve Rider

    It’s nice that the rational, intelligent, truth-speaking judge in this case has the same last name as the infamous hate monger for Jesus, Sally Kern.

  • robirob

    Homophobic, family value, and hypocritical conservatives live by Orwell’s Animal Farm. Paraphrasing: All men are equal, but some men are more equal than others.

  • Nannie W. Jones

    My Uncle Henry recently got an awesome 9 month old Audi allroad Wagon just by working online with a cheap laptop. Visit This Link

  • Cam

    It will be Poetic Justice if the ruling that legalizes gay marriage all across the country comes from a place like Utah or Oklahoma.

  • Harley

    @Cam: Or, say, mmmm, lets see, hmmmm. How about MISSISSIPPI, who just ratified the 13th amendment to the constitution outlawing slavery on February 7, 2013. 150 years after the emancipation proclamation. Laws can and do stay on the books for a very long time sometimes and can be used to harass people if the local authorities choose, until lawsuits are filed and fought in the courts.

Comments are closed.