The 4 Lawsuit-Wielding Oklahoma Lesbians Who Want to Drop Elbows on DOMA


Did you know Chad Griffin’s Prop 8 lawsuit — the Olson-Boies one that doesn’t want gay rights groups involved — isn’t the only federal challenge to marriage inequality laws? Four brass Oklahoma gals are filing their own court papers demanding an end to this discrimination nonsense. Let’s tune in.

There are two couples attached to a new(ly amended) complaint, re-filed after a portion of their lawsuit was dismissed this summer.

One is Susan Barton and Gay Phillips, who have been fighting this fight for years, and who have been married about sixteen times to each other: Once in California on Nov. 1 (four days before Prop 8 took effect), once in British Columbia in May 2005, and they snagged a civil union in Vermont in August 2001. Both editors at the Tulsa World newspaper and together for 25 years, now they want a marriage in Oklahoma!

Then there’s Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, who’ve been together for twelve-plus years, had a commitment ceremony in March 2000, but are otherwise “single, unmarried” in the eyes of the law.

So what are these women so angry about that they went and hired lawyers? They want taxation equality! Health care equality! Language equality!

As God-fearing Christians, Barton and Phillips “value marriage,” they say, except Oklahoma and federal laws (that’s you, DOMA) violate their equal protection guarantees. Which is totally true! And, as these ladies are learning, expensive as hell to prove.

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  • Andrew

    From the article: [“We are both Christians,” she said. “We value marriage.”
    Explaining the amended complaint, attorney Don Holladay said it challenges laws that make gay couples second-class citizens in Oklahoma.
    He said both of the plaintiff couples are in long-term committed relationships.
    “Marriage is one of society’s most fundamental social institutions,” Holladay said. “Lesbian couples have been singled out for discrimination through state action.” He said the lawsuit alleges such treatment injures them as a class of people, resulting in loss of dignity and respect. That is the case even if they are legally married elsewhere, Holladay said, because Oklahoma law does not recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.]

    Wake up love birds – as Christians, it is your RELIGION that makes you “second class citizens.” Christian doctrine as defined you as “wrong, sinful and deviant.”

    I’m curious, will you be filing a lawsuit against your Faith, too? Their guilt is painfully obvious.

  • Cam

    Go ladies!

  • Bruno

    I think if they won their case, the state of Oklahoma would literally implode. The people there wouldn’t even know what to do with such a concept. They’d have to secede. I’m not kidding.

  • strumpetwindsock


    Yes it’s always important to remind the people who are actually doing something that they are not doing enough to satisfy our expectations.

  • KD108

    @Andrew: There are plenty of sects of Christianity that at least see homosexuality as morally neutral and some that fully embrace the LGBT community. Some Christian churches that are wise enough to actually pay attention to the red letters and take things in the correct context actually perform gay marriages and don’t condemn gay people.

    While faith should have no place in legal precedent for recognition of relationships, you can’t down people who want to be treated equally (and are demanding equal treatment under the law) just because you don’t believe in their faith, even when it might even accept them (and you). I personally don’t like religion because it causes many people to blindly follow some predetermined doctrine and be sheeple instead of examining and exploring their own sense of spirituality… who’s to say that the plaintiffs aren’t doing that through their own form of Christianity. I strongly doubt that if they were some self-loathing gay Christians who believe that God hates them, that they’d be filing a lawsuit to get things changed…

  • Sharon Baldwin

    Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for the support and to correct one teensy-tiny inaccuracy. My partner, Mary Bishop, and I are the newspaper editors. Our co-plaintiffs, Gay and Sue, are not, and I don’t think they should have that label forced on them. :)

    Seriously, thanks for the kind words, most of you. The landscape is changing every day, and we’re just trying to push progress along.

  • Keith Kimmel

    @Bruno: Imagine if the state has to issue gay license plates AND do same-sex marriages, lol. Would be fun to see.

  • mysti

    @Sharon Baldwin
    Hi! No thank you for all you are doing, I live here in Tulsa and I can only hope that my partner and I can get the same rights as a man and woman married couple. We were married in Iowa in January. I took her last name and I went and had my Oklahoma DL changed and my social security all changed, but of course we have to pay higher prices for me to be on her insurance and they wont even insure our kids because I am the biological mom not her. If she were a man though they would insure our kids through her job even if he wasn’t the biological father, and if she were a man we wouldn’t pay hire cost insurance payments.
    So keep up your hard work and I hope that one day it will pay off for Oklahoma!

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