Oklahoma

STATUS:

Marriage

WINNING MARRIAGE:

On October 6, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied review of a federal legal case in which a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that banning same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny review meant that same-sex couples in Oklahoma could get married effective immediately, and Oklahoma began issuing marriage licenses that day.

The case that brought an end to Oklahoma’s anti-marriage constitutional amendment was Bishop v. Smith. On January 14, 2014, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern overturned Oklahoma’s discriminatory state ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

On July 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit affirmed the freedom to marry in Oklahoma, upholding U.S. District Judge Terence Kern’s ruling. All parties involved in the case urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and decide the question of whether same-sex couples had the freedom to marry nationwide. The October order denying review meant that the lower court ruling stands, and Oklahoma is officially a freedom-to-marry state.

HISTORY:

In 2004, anti-gay forces in Oklahoma pushed through State Question 711, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any form of legal family status. The following day, same-sex couples filed a legal case seeking to overturn the constitutional amendment. The case developed, became Bishop v. Smith, and went on to bring the freedom to marry to Oklahoma in October 2014.

GROUPS THAT WORKED ON MARRIAGE:

  • Freedom Oklahoma is the grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Oklahoma. 
  • The Equality Network is organization based in Oklahoma that lobbies for pro-equality legislation and public policies in the Sooner State. 
  • Oklahomans for Equality is an organization seeking equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families through advocacy, education, programs, alliances, and the operation of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center.
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:

According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 6,134 same-sex couples are living in Oklahoma, representing 4.2 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.

Blog Posts Related to Oklahoma

Marriage cases will be considered at first SCOTUS conference on 9/29

Today, September 10, 7 different petitions seeking certiorari in marriage cases from 5 states were distributed for the September 29 conference at the United States Supreme Court.

Freedom to Marry staffers share their own marriage stories from this year

This month, one of our staffers in New York got married, and another team member in Oklahoma got engaged. Here's a look at 5 Freedom to Marry team members celebrating their own personal marriage moments this year:

States, businesses, families agree in new briefs: SCOTUS should rule on marriage

The briefs lay out the urgency of bringing an end to the tangible harms and national disparities in how same-sex couples and their families are treated and encourage the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution without delay.

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Resources Related to Oklahoma

The Pathway Forward

Momentum for the freedom to marry continues to build. And it’s clear from the past few weeks the path ahead is dynamic and full of flashpoints, including in some of the more conservative parts of the country. This memo looks at what the recent Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah court victories—and others potentially soon to come—mean in the context of our overall strategy to win the freedom to marry nationwide.

Oklahoma Census Snapshot

Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in Oklahoma.

Geographic Trends Among Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey

Groundbreaking research showing a huge increase in same-sex couples identifying themselves as "unmarried partners".

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