A federal judge has overturned the law in Oklahoma that bans same-sex marriage, which was passed as an amendment to the state constitution by popular referendum in 2004. The court did, however, issue an immediate stay on that order pending the state’s inevitable appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. This passage sticks out:
Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights. The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationships for many years. They own property together, wish to retire together, wish to make medical decisions for one another, and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities. Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment excludes the Bishop couple, and all otherwise eligible same-sex couples, from this privilege without a legally sufficient justification.
This, along with a similar decision in Utah, will almost certainly be the next big Supreme Court test of how far it is willing to go on this issue. In Windsor, Justice Kennedy stopped short of overturning state laws banning same-sex marriage. In fact, his ruling was quite explicitly federalist and left states free to do as they please, affecting only federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states that recognized their validity. But the inexorable logic of his written opinion applies just as logically to those state bans, a fact he certainly knew when he wrote it.
The question is, how long before Kennedy is comfortable following his own logic through to its obvious conclusion? When this case reaches the court, likely in 2015, will that be a long enough time for him to overcome his reluctance to go all the way to full marriage equality? Only time will tell.
You can read the full ruling here.
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