Marriage Equality USA

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Lawsuits - Resolved

Bishop v. Smith

Case #: 14-136 (SCOTUS); 14-5003 (10th Circuit),4:04-cv-00848 (District Court)
Court Level: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: November 2004
Date of Appeal: 24 January 2014


  • This case challenges the state constitution for denying the right to marry the person of one’s own choice, and for refusing to recognize same-gender marriages performed in other states.
  • In 2009, after the district court denied the OK governor & OK attorney general’s motion to dismiss, the case reached the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the couples lacked standing. They amended their complaint, removing the governor and attorney general and adding the Tulsa County Court Clerk who issues marriage licenses.
  • 28 September 2011, the four plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment.
  • 30 March 2012, the court suspended all deadlines, so no trial date was set.
  • 26 July 2013, plaintiffs asked for final judgment in their favor regarding DOMA §3, based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision (26 June 2013).
  • 22 December 2013, lawyers filed a brief pointing to the federal ruling two days earlier in which UT’s marriage ban was declared unconstitutional.
  • 14 January 2014, the federal district court ruled that the OK ban on same-gender civil marriage is unconstitutional. That ruling is stayed pending appeal(s).
  • 16 January 2014, Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, represented by the anti-LGBTQ group, Alliance Defending Freedom, appealed to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 17 January 2014, OK requested the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to: (1) set a fast briefing schedule; (2) assign this appeal to the same judges hearing the UT appeal; and (3) allow amicus briefs to be filed jointly covering both cases.
  • 24 January 2014, 2 of the 4 plaintiffs appealed the district court’s ruling that they don’t have standing to challenge: (1) OK’s refusal to recognize their CA marriage, (2) part B of the Oklahoma constitutional amendment, and (3) Defense of Marriage Act, Section 2.
  • 28 January 2014, the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided to review the OK and UT appeals (a) on a fast-track schedule, and (b) by the same panel of judges. The appeals to be briefed separately and argued separately, with the OK defendant's appeal and the OK plaintiffs’ cross-appeal about out-of-state marriages to be reviewed together.
  • 17 April 2014, oral argument was heard. Audio recording of oral argument.
  • 25 June 2014, the OK ban on marriage equality was again ruled unconstitutional. “The Court holds that Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern wrote. His ruling was stayed pending appeal, based on the recent Supreme Court action granting a stay in “a nearly identical case” challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages.
  • 18 July 2014, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the June 25th ruling. The ruling is stayed pending appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • 6 August 2014, Petition for Writ of Certiorari - asking the the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for a review of the case, in other words appealing to SCOTUS - was filed.
  • 26 August 2014, Jeffrey L. Fisher, law professor and co-director of the Supreme Court Litigation Clinic at Stanford University, became the lead counsel for Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin.
  • 27 August 2014, in their response to the defendants' Petition for Writ of Certiorari, the plaintiffs agree that their case should be heard by SCOTUS. Lyle Denniston analyzes this response (SCOTUSBlog).
  • 6 October 2014, SCOTUS declined to take any of the 7 marriage equality cases from 5 states on appeal, including this one. See page 39 of the order. The 10th Circuit's July 18th ruling stands.
  • 6 October 2014, the 10th Circuit lifts the stay - marriage equality legal in Oklahoma!
  • 28 October 2014, the 10th Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs' attorneys were entitled to a fee award as to the claim by plaintiffs seeking the right to marry and remanded the issue back to the district court to determine an amount.
  • 29 October 2015, 10th US Circuit rules Tulsa County to pay legal fees for same-sex couple seeking marriage license - Channel 2, Tulsa, OK
  • 5 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed a Motion for Judgment on Appeal-Related Attorneys' Fees and a Brief in Support
  • 5 January 2015, the defendants filed their opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees. (See entries for bullets 28 and 29 October 2015.)
  • 1 May 2015, an Opinion and Order was filed granting plaintiffs appeal-related attorney fees and costs.
    "Plaintiffs request $368,827.50 in attorneys’ fees, $1,942.37 in costs, and any enhancement of the fee award deemed reasonable by the Court. For reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in the amount of $298,742.77, which includes $296,847.50 in attorneys’ fees and $1,895.27 in costs."

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