Oklahoma, get prepared to get progressive: Nine years after the state's residents voted overwhelmingly to not allow gay marriage in the state, a federal judge in Tulsa has struck down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage. While gay couples can't get married in the state just yet — the lift on the ban won't go into effect until Judge Terrence C. Kern's decision has overcome appeal — the ruling has left Oklahoma in limbo when it comes to same-sex marriage. That said, the state appears to be inching closer to seeing same-sex marriage legalized.
At the moment, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage, with more expected to come. Judge Kern said in a 68-page decision that there was no valid reason for the ban instated in 2004, and that the obstruction of marriage violated equal-protection laws. "Moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification,” he wrote.
“Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed,” Kern continued. “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.”
You got it, Kern.
This isn't the first time the justice system has demanded change in Oklahoma. Two months ago, the Supreme Court refused to hear not one, but two cases that demanded the reenforcement of an ultrasound, amongst other measures, for women who wanted abortions. As Bustle reported:
A state law had previously required women to view an ultrasound image and listen to a baby’s description prior to an abortion, but it was struck down last December. The high court’s decision upholds the current law against the pre-abortion practices. In its December decision, Oklahoma contended the law was unconstitutional based on a 1992 United States Supreme Court decision on abortion rights, which called for “informed consent” for women seeking abortions.
Anti-gay rights activists have been left outraged at Judge Kern's decision, with some claiming that more than three-quarters of Oklahoma residents don't support the legalization of gay marriage. Said an attorney for the defendant ruled against by Kern: “A court should not impose this novel view of marriage on the people of Oklahoma. We will review the decision with our client, the Tulsa County clerk, and consider her next steps.”
"Novel view of marriage" is an interesting way to put it.
Even Oklahoma's Attorney General was disappointed by the decision, which doesn't exactly speak to his faith in the justice system by which he's employed. AG Scott Priutt called the ruling "troubling," and predicted that the case would make it to the Supreme Court.