News & Politics

Oklahoma, OK?

First off, CONGRATULATIONS, ARKANSAS!

You’ll know by now that on Friday, Arkansas Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza invalidated that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling was handed down after courts had closed that day, but couples began lining up the very next day at the Carroll County Courthouse in Eureka Springs, a popular site for destination weddings in the Ozarks. The judge did not issue a stay – as some in other states have, arguing that repeals down the road could leave couples in legal limbo – but the state is expected to ask for a stay and appeal the ruling. Next stop: Arkansas Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Arkansans are the first same-sex folks south of the Mason-Dixon to receive marriage licenses. Just, wow.

Now on to points west! As Jerry wrote here a few months back, bans on same-sex marriage in both Oklahoma and Utah have been struck down by federal judges in those states and have worked their way up to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Arguments were heard in the Utah case April 10th, and the Oklahoma case April 17th. It could be months before a ruling is handed down, but Freedom to Marry is  not sitting on its hands in the interim.

Last week the organization, in collaboration with The Equality Network, Oklahoma’s LGBT civil rights organization, launched a 30-second television ad designed to drive home why marriage matters to Oklahoma families:

The ad – featuring a decorated Vietnam veteran and multi-generational rancher advocating for his butchy lesbian mom daughter – is part of a larger campaign, Freedom Oklahoma, representing a coalition of community and religious leaders who seek to demonstrate public support for the freedom to marry in the state.

In 2004, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved the anti-gay marriage law that has been found unconstitutional. The most recent polls of state attitudes showed abiding public opposition to marriage equality (56% oppose it; 35% support it). But that polling is 18 months old, notably predating the historic Windsor/DOMA Supreme Court rulings.

Two things we’ve noticed in the marriage equality movement in recent years make this kind of campaign very relevant: (1) judges, though they are duty-bound to ignore popular sentiment and focus instead on the timelessness of the law, do not like to get out in front of public opinion on hot-button issues like this one, and (2) public opinion on this issue is changing faster than most of us would have ever imagined. Godspeed Oklahoma. Deedra, Amber, and their three kids deserve your protection and recognition ASAP.

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