Federal Judge In Tulsa Rules Oklahoma Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Tuesday, January 14th 2014, 6:03 pm
By: News On 6

U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

He stayed his ruling pending appeal, which means gay marriages still cannot happen, for now.

But it was all smiles, applause and cheers inside Tulsa's Equality Center.

Rosie Lynch, a LGBT Supporter, said, "Absolute astounding shock for Oklahoma."

Another supporter, Kristi Freman, said, "I had to check my pulse cause I knew that it wasn't ever going to happen before I died."

A federal judge ruled Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution's 14 Amendment. Something the Equality Center has been saying for a long time.

This ruling came nine years after Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and another Tulsa couple filed a lawsuit against the state.

"We're just elated. We're so excited and happy," Bishop said.

"It's about time," said Baldwin. "It's been such a long time that we've been waiting for this and now it's finally here."

Baldwin says a lot has changed since 2004, when Oklahoma voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as, "the union between one man and one woman," by a 3-to-1 margin.

Baldwin says back then no states recognized same-sex marriage. Now 17 states and Washington D.C. allow same-sex couples to get married.

"Look at the ground swell that's happen across the country," said Baldwin. "She can say what she wants, but I can read the writing on the wall."

"There's been so much change of heart in this country, including in this state and so much momentum toward equality that we really believed when the judge would rule, he'd rule in our favor," said Bishop.

Multiple Oklahoma lawmakers voiced their opposition to the ruling.

Governor Fallin wrote "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."

The judge expects his ruling will be appealed, which means this doesn't go into effect anytime soon and no marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples until this fight is completely over.

The ruling came in the case of Bishop v. Oklahoma, which was filed in Tulsa in 2004. It was filed by Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, who've been together for more than 16 years.

6/26/2013: Related Story: Oklahoma Couple Challenging State Marriage Amendment With Lawsuit

Judge Kern ruled that the "Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Read the ruling.

The judge issued a stay on his ruling, though, pending the outcome of a nearly identical case from Utah that is already being appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.