Federal judge strikes down Oklahoma’s marriage ban, issues stay pending appeal

Today, January 14, 2014, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that laws in Oklahoma prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional. The federal judge has also issued a stay on the ruling pending appeal, so same-sex couples will not be immediately allowed to receive marriage licenses. 

The case that the judge ruled in today is Bishop v. United States, a case filed by private lawyers in November 2004. The case represents two couples, Mary Bishop & Sharon Baldwin, a Tulsa couple together for 17 years, and Gay Phillips & Susan Barton, who were legally married in Canada and were joined together in civil union in Vermont.

The ruling today is an amazing step forward for same-sex couples in Oklahoma - and, personally for the plaintiffs, who have waited nine years for a ruling. You can learn more about the ruling - and all of the other 35 marriage lawsuits pending in court at Freedom to Marry's Litigation resource page

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the ruling today. He said:

This is a tremendous day for loving and committed same-sex couples and their families in Oklahoma, building on the momentum of eight other states that ended their restrictions on marriage for same-sex couples in 2013. The federal district judge has done the right thing by affirming that marriage is a fundamental freedom for all people, gay and non-gay – for all of us who believe in liberty and fairness.

As the case makes its way up through the courts, we will continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage matters and creating a climate for victory when the Supreme Court eventually takes the freedom to marry case that brings national resolution. The momentum for the freedom to marry will continue as we win more hearts and minds, working to bring the freedom to marry throughout the country.

Lead plaintiffs Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin have been working hard over the past nine years to bring their case to court. They have stood up for same-sex couples from across the state of Oklahoma, and their tenacity and perseverence should be celebrated. (Photo by Tom Gilbert)

Learn more about the freedom to marry in Oklahoma HERE