Oklahoma ACLU opposes constitutional amendment

Friday, August 27th 2004, 9:17 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma filed a state Supreme Court lawsuit Friday seeking to knock a proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage off the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Among other things, the suit argues the state question is constitutionally vague, violates plaintiffs' civil rights, and usurps a provision of the Oklahoma Constitution prohibiting constitutional amendments embracing more than one subject.

Ten homosexual plaintiffs joined ACLU attorneys at a news conference outside the Capitol to decry the proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage between two members of the same sex.

The plaintiffs argued State Question 711 denied them equal treatment under the 14th Amendment.

James Nimmo, standing beside his domestic partner, said he was guaranteed "fair and equal treatment in the public square and the public courts."

"I am not required to suffer in silence the intermingling of private religious and political discrimination with the public laws," Nimmo said.

Darin Moore and Trey Watts had similar comments. Watts, a former Marine, said America is "fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to protect people from religious tyranny. Today, we are legally fighting against tyranny right here on our homeland soil."

Terry Gatewood said the proposed constitutional change threatened rights now enjoyed by 55,000 heterosexual couples, including those classified as having common law marriages.

"This is a ruse -- they are not just going after same-sex couples," Gatewood said.

Keith Smith, lobbyist for the ACLU and other organizations, said he wanted to be a plaintiff in the legal challenge because "I am a patriotic American."

He said he grew up in northwestern Oklahoma near the small community of Freedom.

He said he wanted future generations of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals to "love this country as much as I do and I want them to grow up not just living near a town called Freedom but to live in freedom."

Mark Hendricksen of El Reno, one of the attorneys in the case, said he expects the Supreme Court to accept the case and hold a prompt hearing.