Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Federal District Court Strikes Down Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban; Stays Effectiveness of Decision

In Bishop v. United States, (ND OK, Jan. 14, 2014), an Oklahoma federal district court, in a 68-page opinion, held that the provision in the Oklahoma constitution barring same-sex marriage in the state violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. After a lengthy discussion of the justifications for the ban offered by the state, the court said:
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. The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationships for many years. They own property together, wish to retire together, wish to make medical decisions for one another, and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities. Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment excludes the Bishop couple, and all otherwise eligible same-sex couples, from this privilege without a legally sufficient justification.
The court however-- with an eye on the stay granted by the U.S. Supreme Court to a similar Utah federal district court decision-- granted a stay of its injunction against enforcing Oklahoma's provision pending disposition of any appeal to the 10th Circuit. The court dismissed on standing grounds plaintiffs' challenges to provisions in the Oklahoma constitution and DOMA precluding recognition in the state of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The Los Angeles Times reports on the decision.