The Human Rights Campaign has reported that United States District Judge Terence Kern has ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. Unlike Utah, though, the ruling is stayed pending an almost guaranteed appeal to a higher court.
After nine years of languishing in the courts, plaintiffs Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, finally got a ruling, which was announced earlier today.
Oklahoma is the second state in the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to have a district judge declare a ban on marriage equality to be unconstitutional. A district judge in Utah handed down a similar ruling last month which led to a chaotic attempt by that state’s attorney general to file a motion to stay after failing to file a preliminary injunction before the ruling was issued.
As a result, more than 3600 same-sex couples were married in Utah before the US Supreme Court stayed the decision.
Oklahoma same-sex couples will have to wait until the case goes through the federal court system before they can wed. With two cases now headed to the 10th circuit within weeks of each other, it’s a race to the finish line to see which will reach the US Supreme Court first.
Already, there are cases throughout the country that challenge bans on marriage equality. The American Foundation for Equal Rights is supporting a case in Virginia with two couples challenging that state’s constitutional amendment that restricts marriage to one man and one woman. The new lawsuits follow last year’s Supreme Court ruling on the Perry v. Brown case that struck down that state’s Proposition 8 law and the Windsor v. United States case that nullified section 3 of the Federal Defense of Marriage act.
Congratulations to the Oklahoma plaintiffs who won their long-awaited case.