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Marriage equality 2014: Okla. gay same-sex marriage ban ruled unconstitutional

Baldwin and Bishop are challenging Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban
Baldwin and Bishop are challenging Oklahoma's same-sex marriage ban
(AP Photo/Eric Turner)

Same-sex marriage has scored a victory on Tuesday in the state of Oklahoma. According to a report by USA Today on Jan. 14, a federal judge has ruled that the state’s same-sex marriage ban put in place by voters in 2004 is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The ruling doesn’t mean that same-sex marriages will happen in the state anytime soon, but it does give gay couples in the state hope. U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern stayed his ruling pending an appeal, an action inspired by the current issues surrounding a similar ruling in the state of Utah.

Kern sited a equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution to support his ruling. In a 68-page opinion, Kern wrote:

“Excluding same-sex couples from marriage has done little to keep Oklahoma families together thus far, as Oklahoma consistently has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. 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. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights.”

In another ruling inspired by the historic Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA), states are following similar paths in deeming state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Kern also referenced Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin in his opinion, stating that the couple has been together for many years and should be “recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities.”

If appeals are denied in Utah and now Oklahoma, same-sex marriage would already see two victories in 2014 following a year that saw gay marriage and gay rights make historic progress.

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