Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Okla. Same-sex Marriage Ban

By:  Jack Kenny
Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Okla. Same-sex Marriage Ban

A federal appeals court ruled on July 18 that Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. 

The case appears likely to join a growing list of appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court on the traditional power of states to define and regulate marriage. In a 2-1 decision, the same three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional less than a month ago declared that the Oklahoma law "sweeps too broadly" in denying "a fundamental right to all same-sex couples."

The Tenth Circuit Court, based in Denver, covers Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, and Utah, along with portions of Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Idaho.

Also on July 18, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an appeal from Utah to extend an injunction against enforcing the appeals court's ruling against that state's same-sex marriage ban, pending its appeal. The stay was granted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The Colorado Supreme Court also issued a ruling on July 18, ordering the Denver County to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as long as Colorado's marriage law remains in effect. Denver County Clerk Debra Johnson began handing out licenses to homosexual couples on July 10, Reuters reported, hours after a state judge ruled in favor of Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall, who started issuing licenses to same-sex couples in late June, following the Tenth Circuit ruling on Utah's ban. Pueblo County has also been issuing licenses for same-sex marriages. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he hoped all Colorado's clerks would abide by the July 18 ruling without requiring more "wasteful" litigation.

In the Oklahoma case, the appeals court panel upheld a District Court ruling in favor of two female couples challenging an amendment to the state Constitution, adopted by the voters in a 2004 referendum. The amendment declares:

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Photo shows the Federal Courthouse in Denver in the background: AP Images

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