WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court decision that struck down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the legal group representing the Tulsa County court clerk announced on Friday.
Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Oklahoman that the clerk will ask Supreme Court justices to review the July 18 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In that 2-1 decision, the court ruled that Oklahoma’s ban violates 14th Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law.
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Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, the Tulsa County couple who sued the court clerk when she refused to give them a marriage license, issued a joint statement Friday night.
“Although we aren’t surprised by the Alliance Defending Freedom's decision to appeal our victory from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, neither are we disappointed,” the couple said.
“We are ready to see the highest court in the land affirm that marriage equality is the law of the land. We have confidence in our case and our lawyers, and should the Supreme Court agree to hear our case, we anticipate a victory there, as well.”
The Supreme Court, which declined in 2013 to rule in a California case on whether states could ban same-sex marriage, will now have a choice of cases to review.
State officials in Utah have also announced that they will appeal the 10th Circuit Court’s decision in a very similar case.
The appeals court rendered that decision a few weeks before ruling in the Oklahoma case. In both cases, the appeals court, by votes of 2-1, upheld decisions by federal district judges.
The 10th Circuit Court was the first to rule a same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a federal law — the Defense of Marriage Act — that denied a range of federal benefits to same-sex couples.
There are some technical differences between the Utah and Oklahoma cases — particularly related to which officials were sued and whether it was the constitutional provision or actual laws that were challenged — but the basic question is the same.
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In both cases, the appeals court applied a stringent legal test to the bans before ruling that states could not deprive same-sex couples of a fundamental right.
The 10th Circuit Court delayed the effect of its decisions, meaning same-sex marriages were not allowed in Oklahoma, Utah and the other states in the circuit that have bans.
However, if the high court declines to review the cases, the appeals court rulings will go into effect and same-sex marriage would be legal. The Supreme Court is in recess until October. It is not known when, after the justices return, they will consider whether to review the Oklahoma decision.
Since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, there has been a wave of federal court rulings against state same-sex marriage bans.
Voters in Oklahoma and Utah passed constitutional bans by overwhelming margins in 2004.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.