OKLAHOMA CITY– A federal judge appointed by then-President Bill Clinton has struck down Oklahoma’s same-sex ‘marriage’ ban as unconstitutional.
U. S. District Judge Terence Kern issued the ruling on Tuesday, but placed a stay on its enforcement pending appeal.
“The Court holds that Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” he wrote. “Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions.”
Oklahoma’s constitutional marriage amendment was approved by 76 percent of voters during the November 2004 election.
“Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman,” the amendment reads. “A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage.”
Marriage licenses issued in violation of the law carried misdemeanor penalties.
State regulations were first challenged in 2004 by four lesbian women, who renewed their lawsuit again in 2009. The case was known as Bishop et al v. United States.
The Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual advocacy group, issued a statement following the ruling, applauding Kern’s decision.
“With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans,” wrote President Chad Griffin. “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.”
But Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin expressed disappointment, opining that it was wrong for the court to override the will of the people.
“The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue,” she said. “I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Washington-based Family Research Council, agreed.
“This activist judge is overrunning both the constitution and the rule of law in a drive to fundamentally alter America’s moral, political and cultural landscape,” he stated. “He is substituting his own ideology for the three-quarters of Oklahomans who voted to preserve marriage in their constitution as it has always been defined.”
The decision comes one month after a federal judge appointed by Barack Obama declared Utah’s ban on same-sex “marriage” unconstitutional, likewise ruling that it violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court later stayed the decision—after over a thousand same-sex ceremonies commenced—since the case is under appeal.
Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” was also passed during the November 2004 election with 66 percent of the vote.