Friday, July 18, 2014

10th U.S. Circuit Affirms Ruling Invalidating Oklahoma Ban On Marriage Equality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has affirmed a lower court ruling striking down Oklahoma's ban on marriage equality. The same 3-judge appellate panel that struck down Utah's ban on marriage equality earlier this year (making history to become the highest court to issue a ruling that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional in Kitchen v Herbert) has now ruled in Bishop v Smith that Oklahoma's marriage equality ban is also unconstitutional.

Freedom to Marry notes that this case is one of the longest running legal battles over marriage equality (originally filed in 2004!) and is the twenty-sixth consecutive win in court for marriage equality. Eval Wolfson said:
“Today’s ruling arises out of the oldest active marriage case in the country, filed in Oklahoma ten years ago; and follows more than two dozen favorable rulings for marriage in the past year. The legal consensus is clear: marriage discrimination is unconstitutional and inflicts concrete harms on committed gay and lesbian couples and their families.  From the heart of the Southwest and as far as the Mountain West, the federal rulings from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals from Oklahoma and Utah affirm that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. It is time for the Supreme Court to end this patchwork of discrimination and bring our country to national resolution as soon as possible.”
The Washngton Blade reports that the vote count was 2-1 and that the 46-page opinion was written by Carlos Lucero, a Clinton appointee. The court basically says that its decision in Bishop is controlled by its earlier decision in Kitchen.

Interestingly, the Department of Justice and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group are defendant-appellants in this case because the original lawsuit also challenged the now-defunct Defense of Marriage Act. I don't know if that makes it more or less likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court on appeal (I would think, less likely, but who knows.)

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