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Federal Appeals Court Rejects Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:38:26 +0000

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Friday that Oklahoma must allow same-sex couples the right to marry.

The decision follows one made by the same court last month involving same-sex marriage in Utah.

Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Susan Barton and Gayle Phillips filed the suit against the Oklahoma governor and attorney general in 2004.

Bishop and Baldwin exchanged vows in a church-recognized "commitment ceremony" in 2000, court papers say. They sought a marriage license from the Tulsa County Court Clerk in 2009 but were denied because of the state ban on same-sex marriage.

Barton and Phillips took part in a civil union ceremony in 2001 and were married in Canada in 2005 and again in California in 2008. They too say that the state refused to recognize their marriage, causing "adverse federal tax consequences."

In 2006, the court rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the state's governor and attorney general. Three years later, a court panel determined that the plaintiffs had no standing, as they had not named "a defendant having a causal connection to their alleged injury." They later filed an amended complaint naming Sally Howe-Smith, former Court Clerk for Tulsa County, a defendant.

A three-judge panel made Friday's ruling, saying that none of the arguments made by the defendant persuaded them to alter their initial holding that "states may not, consistent with the United States Constitution, prohibit same-sex marriages."

Still, the court put its majority ruling on hold pending an appeal, preventing same-sex couples from getting married in Oklahoma immediately. Utah's attorney general, after his state was subject to a similar ruling, said he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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