Marriage Equality USA

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State of Oklahoma
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Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2014. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)
  • 12 November 2014, in a victory for all LGBT families in Oklahoma, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that non-biological parents in a same-sex relationship can seek custody of children they raised based on an agreement to parent together.
  • Marriage law of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, a united tribe in Oklahoma, makes no specification of the gender of the participants. Based on that, Darren Black Bear and Jason Pickel applied for and received a marriage license on 18 October 2013. Theirs was the third such license issued by the Tribes.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 

  • In 1975, the Oklahoma state legislature passed its first statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
  • In 1996, the Oklahoma state legislature passed its own Defense of Marriage act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibited same-sex marriages from other states from being recognized in Oklahoma.
  • In April 2004, the Oklahoma legislature approved of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. In November 2004, Oklahoma voters approved Oklahoma Question 711, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and prohibiting any "legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups".
  • In May 2012, the Oklahoma Senate passed SCR 62, a non-binding resolution reaffirming marriage between one man and one woman. 
  • In April 2013, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed HCR 1009, a non-binding resolution reaffirming marriage between one man and one woman, and urging the Supreme Court to uphold DOMA and the right of states to regulate marriage. 
  • Oklahoma law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • The city of Norman has a policy that prohibits discrimination in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity, while the cities of Oklahoma City and Tulsa have policies that prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation only.
  • 6 October 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States did not grant cert for any of 7 marriage cases from 5 states that had submitted petitions asking for review, including Oklahoma's case, Bishop v. Smith (see under LAWSUITS-RESOLVED below). This left the prior 10th Circuit Court of Appeals 18 July 2014 ruling standing as valid and legalized marriage equality in Oklahoma.

Legislation - Pending

Senate Bill 733 - Infectious diseases; requiring submission of certain documents prior to issuance of marriage license

Date Introduced: 2 February 2015
Author/Sponsor: Sen. Anthony Sykes

Description:

  • 2 February 2015, introduced and passed first reading. This bill would require a blood test from a physician to be presented to the court clerk at the time of application for a license showing that neither applicant has a communicable or infectious disease or, if infected, the disease is not in a communicable stage at the time. 
  • Under this bill, HIV-positive people would not be allowed to marry. 
  • 4 February 2015, passed second reading and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SB 669 - Declaration of marriage; establishing procedures for recording and filing of certain declaration

Date Introduced: 2 February 2015
Author/Sponsor: Senator Nathan Dahm [R]

Description:

  • 2 February 2015, introduced and passed first reading.
  • 3 February 2015, second reading and referred to Judiciary. 
HB 1598 - Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act

Date Introduced: January 2015
Author/Sponsor: Sally Kern - R
Date Enacted:

Description:

  • This is an extremely dangerous pro-Conversion “Therapy” bill, misleadingly named the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act.” Filed by Republican State Representative Sally Kern, it is an attempt to legitimize and provide special state protection to a dangerous and discredited practice that has been denounced by every major medical and mental health association in the country, including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association.
  • This bill is in the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee.
HB 2215  

Date Introduced: January 2015
Author/Sponsor: Rep. Mike Ritze
Date Enacted:

Description:

  • This bill seeks to stigmatize and undermine marriage equality for transgender people by requiring them to be listed as transgender on any marriage application and any marriage license received.
  • The bill is in the House Judiciary and Civil Procedure Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislation - Enacted

HB 1007 - Marriage; prohibiting requirement of religious official to solemnize a marriage that violates their conscience or religious beliefs; effective date

Date Introduced: 2 February 2015
Author/Sponsor: Representative Brumbaugh and Senator Brecheen
Date Signed Into Law: 1 May 2015

Description:

  • 2 February 2015, this is another religious exemptions bill that, if passed, would legalize discrimination by public officials. Under present Oklahoma law, only clergy persons willing and able to perform same-sex weddings are allowed to. Under existing law, no one is forced to perform same-sex weddings.
  • 22 April 2015, the bill passed the legislature.
  • 1 May 2015, the bill was approved by the governor.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

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

Description:

  • 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."

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • 16 November 2014, the results of a poll performed by SoonerPoll.com and sponsored by the Tulsa World showed that 29% of those surveyed supported same-sex marriage.
  • 30 June 2014, The Tulsa World released results of an Oklahoma poll of 393 likely voters that showed two in three Oklahomans oppose marriage equality with areas of greater support for the issue found among Democrats, younger voters and urban area dwellers. Poll Details