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Court Rules for Gay Marriage in Oklahoma Case

by Nicholas Riccardi
Friday Jul 18, 2014
The Oklahoma State House
The Oklahoma State House  (Source:AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

A federal appeals court on Friday ruled Oklahoma must allow gay couples to wed, marking the second time it has found the U.S. Constitution protects same-sex marriage.

The decision from a three-judge panel in Denver upholds rulings that struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban.

The 2-1 ruling comes after the same panel ruled June 25 that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. It was the first time an appellate court determined last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act means states cannot deny gays the ability to wed.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel put its Oklahoma and Utah rulings on hold pending an appeal. Utah's attorney general has said he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Gay marriage in the two states will remain on hold.

Still, the decisions give increased momentum to a legal cause that has compiled an impressive string of lower court victories. More than 20 courts have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates since the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling in June 2013. The rulings have come in 17 states, with Florida being the latest.

Two of the most striking of those decisions were in conservative Utah and Oklahoma, which saw their voter-approved gay marriage bans struck down in December and January, respectively. In Utah, more than 1,000 same-sex couples married before the Supreme Court issued a stay.

It's unclear whether the two cases will be the first to reach the Supreme Court. The high court could choose from cases moving through five other federal appellate courts, and it won't consider a case until next year at the earliest.

Attorneys representing Utah and Oklahoma argued voters have the right to define marriage in their states, and unions between a man and woman are best for children.

Gay rights lawyers countered that voters cannot define marriage in a way that deprives gay people of their fundamental rights, and say there is no proof that gay couples make inferior parents.

Ten years ago, nearly a dozen states outlawed gay marriage. Now same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and recent polls show a majority of Americans support it.

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Gay Marriage

This story is part of our special report titled "Gay Marriage." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


  • , 2014-07-18 11:45:44

    As a citizen living in Oklahoma, though I am NOT native born and refuse to call myself an Oklahoman, this news is very exciting for me. My deepest regret is that my recently deceased partner of a 37-year self-styled marriage could not be here with me to celebrate. I despise those who have stood in the way of the growing accumulation of court rulings in favor of marriage equality. The invective, scorn, and lies of the flat-earthers has ruined the lives of countless citizens who have done no harm to anyone. These same-gender couples only wanted the same right to happiness and legally recognized marriage as other people in America, no more, no less.

  • , 2014-07-18 12:32:33


  • , 2014-07-21 15:16:41

    Ditto from me except that it was a 32 year self styled marriage in Oklahoma.

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