The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled on Friday that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The voter-approved referendum passed with 75 percent support in the heavily conservative state in 2004.
The New York Times reports that the panel ruled that the ban was overly broad.
“Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage sweeps too broadly in that it denies a fundamental right to all same-sex couples who seek to marry or to have their marriages recognized regardless of their child-rearing ambitions,” Judge Carlos F. Lucero wrote for the majority. “Oklahoma has barred all same-sex couples, regardless of whether they will adopt, bear, or otherwise raise children, from the benefits of marriage while allowing all opposite-sex couples, regardless of their child-rearing decisions, to marry.”
The text of the amendment states that:
(a.) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. Neither this Constitution nor any other provision of law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
(b.) A marriage between persons of the same gender performed in another state shall not be recognized as valid and binding in this state as of the date of the marriage.
(c.) Any person knowingly issuing a marriage license in violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Clinton-appointed Judge Lucero was joined in the 2-1 ruling by Judge Jerome A. Holmes, a George W. Bush-appointee. Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr., who dissented, was nominated to the bench by President George H. W. Bush. The same panel struck down Utah’s ban last month. Utah is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Attorney Joseph Thai expressed confidence after the ruling: “We’re on the right side of history. We’re on the right side of the Constitution. States’ rights can’t trump the [US] Constitution.”