Denver, CO, United States (4E) – The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The vote by Judges Carlos Lucero and Jerome Holmes to strike down the ban and Judge Paul Kelly’s dissent affirmed their June ruling in a similar case in Utah. However, as in their Utah case ruling, the court stopped short of allowing same-sex couples in Oklahoma to marry pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision whether or not to hear an appeal to the rulings.
“Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage sweeps too broadly in that it denies a fundamental right to all same-sex couples who seek to marry or to have their marriages recognized regardless of their child-rearing ambitions,” Lucero, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, wrote in the majority ruling, according to USA Today.
As with opposite-sex couples, members of same-sex couples have a constitutional right to choose against procreation.”
Kelly, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush, said any change in the definition of marriage rightly belongs to the people of Oklahoma, not a federal court. He is the first federal judge to oppose same-sex marriage in any case since the Supreme Court ruled last June that the federal government must recognize such marriages.
The appellate court’s ruling came 10 years after Tulsa County couple Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin challenged Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban. They sued Tulsa County Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith for refusing to issue them a marriage license.
Bishop and Baldwin said Friday they were gratified by the court’s ruling affirming the January ruling of U.S. District Judge Terence Kern that gays and lesbians should enjoy the same rights straight people enjoy.
Oklahomans approved at the ballot box a constitutional amendment that affirmed marriage as a man-woman union, according to Byron Babione, an attorney with Arizona-based Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Smith.
Meanwhile, the three-judge panel also ruled on the challenge of a second same-sex couple in the case. Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, sought the state’s recognition of their marriage in Canada and Oklahoma. The court ruled they lacked the legal standing to make the challenge.