THURSDAY: 10th Circuit Appeals Court hears argument in Oklahoma marriage case

This week, on Thursday, April 17, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver will hear oral arguments in Bishop v. Smith, a federal lawsuit that seeks the freedom to marry in Oklahoma. The hearing, which begins at 10:00am Mountain Time, comes one week after oral arguments in a similar case, Kitchen v. Herbert out of Utah. Both cases entered into the appeals court with a victory at the district court under their belt.

The Bishop v. Smith case, which had been pending for nearly ten years before the federal judge ruled in January that anti-marriage laws in OK are unconstitutional, and the Utah case could have far-reaching impact on the state of the freedom to marry in the country. The appeals will certainly impact marriage laws in both states, but they could also have a wider reach. Because the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals covers six states - Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming - a broader ruling could potentially impact these other four 10th Circuit states as well as UT and OK.

These 10th Circuit hearings kick off what well may be the penultimate chapter in the campaign to win the freedom to marry nationwide: This spring, a wave of activity will sweep through the federal appellate courts, as nine different marriage cases face consideration in five different appellate courts. One of these cases – or perhaps one of the more than 60 active lawsuits nationwide seeking the freedom to marry or respect of legal marriages – could make its way to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court would then have the chance to provide national resolution on marriage for same-sex couples.

You can learn more about the long history of Bishop v. United States HERE, in our oral history with lead plaintiffs Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin. And don't miss our Live Blog of the oral arguments, which will provide context for why marriage matters throughout the day.