Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Oklahoma
Case is appealed to the U.S. 10th Circuit
Court of Appeals.
Webmaster's comments (Bias alert):
One of the problems with American media generally is that conservative sources all tend to take the same viewpoint, whereas liberal sources tend to take a very different approach to the same topic. A person cannot get a balanced presentation without reading both groups. Unfortunately, most people prefer to read from sources that match their particular belief systems.
- Re: Governor Mary Fallin's (R) comment:
Actually, the amendment was passed with 76% support, not 75%. However, that was almost 10 years ago, when national opposition to SSM was about 56% and was much higher in conservative states like Oklahoma. Since then, national support for marriage equality has grown to about 54% as opposition to SSM has gradually faded by about 10 to 20 percentage points a decade across the U.S.
In common with all other conservative voices that we have seen in the media, Governor Fallin made no mention of Question 711 being unconstitutional because it violates Amendment 14 of the U.S. Constitution. To her, it appears that any vote of the public trumps the need to follow the U.S. Constitution. Also, she seems to believe that the federal government is discounting the importance of the Oklahoma voters. These appears to be a nearly universal beliefs of religious and social conservatives: that if the will of the people in a particular state violates a section of the U.S. Constitution, then the people's will must be followed and the federal Constitution ignored. That is not a widely held view of federalism in America, and of the role of the U.S. Constitution.
- Re: Tony Perkins' comment:
Perkin's example of a Colorado baker is not directly related to same-sex marriage. Colorado has human rights legislation in place that requires pubic accommodations to not discriminate in the provision of services and products on the basis of a customer's race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
(A "public accommodation" is any company that sells goods and/or services to the general public.)
By turning away a potential customer, they risk being charged under the state's human rights legislation and having to pay a fine for discriminating. The religious liberty question involved with this baker is does not involve religious liberty in the historical meaning of the term. In the past, the term referred to freedom of an individual's religious beliefs, freedom to assemble with fellow believers, freedom to proselytize, etc. The term's meaning has shifted in recent years. It now often involves the rapidly growing meaning of "religious liberty: the freedom to discriminate against others with impunity, What Perkins and the cake baker should really be targeting in this case is not same-sex marriage. It is the human rights legislation that requires all public accommodations to follow the Golden Rule and treat all potential customers equally.
- Re: Byron Babione's comment:
He does not appear to be aware of the many re-definitions of marriages that have occurred during the history of the United States. In fact, five fundamental changes to marriage have occurred in the country of which same-sex marriage is only the most recent:
- By the mid 19th Century, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormons -- promoted polygyny -- the marriage of one man to multiple women.
- Prior to the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, slaves were not allowed to freely marry.
- In the late 19th Century, the Mormon Church teaches that they received a revelation from God to ban polygyny -- the marriage of one man to multiple women.
- In the late 19th Century, some states passed laws to prohibit deaf couples from marrying. These laws were repealed in the early 20th century.
- Prior to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967, interracial couples were not allowed to marry in many U.S. states.
- Prior to 2004, same-sex couples were not allowed to marry anywhere in the U.S. This came to an end when Massachusetts became the first state to achieve marriage equality.
The courts are not imposing any restrictions on individual citizens of Oklahoma. If a person wants to commit to marrying a person of the opposite-sex and promise support for a lifetime, they are still able to do it. Marriage equality affects only the lives of same-sex couples who are not permitted to marry the person that they love and to whom they wish to make a lifelong commitment.
- Re: Bruce Hausknecht's statement:
He refers to the "free exercise of religion." However, in reality, it is the freedom to discriminate and denigrate others, in violation of the Golden Rule. Aside from whether Christian owners of companies should follow the Golden Rule and treat their customers as they would wish to be treated, state governments across the country have introduced human rights legislation to require companies to refrain from discriminating. The legislators were motivated by the belief that if a company discriminates against a potential customer on the basis of the latter's race, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc., then society is destabilized to a degree. Religious conservatives concerned about their need to discriminate against and denigrate others would be more effective at achieving their aims if they attempted to repeal any existing human rights legislation.
To keep the matter in perspective, there have been about a dozen cases where company owners have run afoul of human rights legislation in their state. This compares to the approximately 15 million adults in the U.S. who have a homosexual orientation, and approximately 15 million adults with a bisexual orientation. Over time, a growing percentage of these 30 million adults will wish to be free to marry a person of the same sex whom they love and wish to commit a lifetime of support.
2014-JAN-16: District Court's decision is appealed:
Tulsa County Clerk, Sally Howe Smith, filed an appeal of Judge Kern's ruling with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. She is receiving legal support from Alliance Defending Freedom -- a conservative Christian legal defense group, and from the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office.
The executive director of Oklahomans for Equality, Toby Jenkins, said:
"We at Oklahomans for Equality are disappointed that tax payer dollars will continue to be used to fund something that is unconstitutional and has already been decided in multiple [state and federal] courts." 1
Attorneys for Sally Howe Smith have asked the Court of Appeals to expedite consideration of the appeal in the same way that the Court has expedited the appeal of almost identical case in Utah. She also requested that the same panel of three judges be assigned to both the Oklahoma and Utah cases, and that interested parties be allowed to submit their same "friend of the court" brief in both cases. Her attorneys said:
"This case, at bottom, raises the question whether the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the people from defining marriage as an opposite-sex union. That ultimate question is the same ultimate issue presented in the Kitchen appeal [in Utah], which involves a challenge to the constitutionality of Utah's marriage laws."
The Court of Appeals agreed to place the Oklahoma case on the same type of fast track schedule as the Utah case. Briefs are to be filed by early April. Both cases will be heard by the same panel of three judges. The court will hear arguments in the Oklahoma case on 2014-APR-17 -- one week after the Utah case. However, the two cases will be kept separate and will not be merged into a single appeal.
The 10th Circuit court hears appeals from district courts in six states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. 2,3
The most likely future path is for the decisions by three-judge panel in both the Oklahoma and Utah cases to be appealed by the loser to the full U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Subsequently, the full court's decision may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final ruling that could have nation-wide implications for same-sex marriage. However, it is possible that the cases will be appealed directly to the Supreme Court. The stakes are very high for the approximately 15 million gays and lesbians, and for some of the approximately 15 million bisexuals in the United States.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Mike Averill, "Appeal filed in Oklahoma same-sex marriage ruling," Tulsa World, 2014-JAN-16, at: http://www.tulsaworld.com/
- Chris Casteel, "Court fast-tracks appeal of Oklahoma same-sex marriage ruling," NewsOK, 2014-JAN-29, at:http://newsok.com/
- Robert Boczkiewicz, "Clerk wants expedited hearing on gay marriage appeal," Tulsa World, 2014-JAN-21, at: http://www.tulsaworld.com/
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2014-JAN-16
Latest update: 2014-JUL-21
Author: B.A. Robinson