Claremore Daily Progress

Top Stories

August 5, 2010

Oklahoma poised as unlikely same-sex battleground

Advocates buoyed by California marriage ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY — The landmark court decision overturning California's ban on same-sex marriage resulted in ripples across Oklahoma as supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage said the ruling could eventually have an impact on whether gay marriage will be legalized in Oklahoma and the rest of the country.

A federal judge's ruling Wednesday in California -- and a federal judge's decision last month in Massachusetts -- have made conservative Oklahoma in the middle of the country an unlikely battleground for gay marriage.
Longtime Broken Arrow couple Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, who are the named plaintiffs challenging Oklahoma’s Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, said California’s case does not carry any legal precedent in their own case. However, Baldwin said it shows “the tide is turning” and more judges could follow the lead of what has happened in California and Massachusetts.
On the other side of the issue, Michael L. Jestes, executive director of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, which opposes same-sex marriage, said he is not surprised to hear the ruling Wednesday, and he urged opponents of same-sex marriage to get involved at the grassroots level because the debate likely will heat up in Oklahoma.
Although the U.S. district judge’s decision does not have a direct effect on pending legal challenges against Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban, Toby Jenkins, president of Oklahomans for Equality, said the news provides optimism that the state law could be changed one day.
Opposition, challenges remain
Jestes said California’s ruling is worrisome because he said it is ignoring the voice of the people who voted for Proposition 8.
“It is not mainstream America to redefine marriage,” he said. “I think that needs to be a state right, and this is the third time people (in California) have overwhelmingly spoken against redefining marriage, and it is the third time people have then tried to go around the corner to redefine marriage.
“It has faced us in the East and West,” he said referring court challenges in California and Massachusetts. “And it is only a matter of time before it come here to the middle (of the country).”
Oklahoma legal battle
“We hope judges across country, that for whatever reason are sympathetic, see there are legitimate reasons to rule in favor of us,” Baldwin said. “In our case, we are hoping our judge will look at transcript (from the California case).”
Baldwin and Bishop began their legal challenge in 2004 along with Sue and Gay Barton-Phillips, who now are separately challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act since they are married unlike Baldwin and Bishop. In seeking to overturn the state’s ban, Bishop said they still are waiting for legal procedures to move forward after they amended their challenge last year to name different defendants.
Bishop said if left to the voters’ will, change in Oklahoma is very unlikely. That is why she said her goal is for her case, the California case or another one to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
 “People say it could never happen in Oklahoma, and if it is left to the majority vote it might never happen,” she said. “That is why we believe it up to courts to insure the rights of the minority are granted and upheld just as they were in the racial civil right’s movement. The rights of the minority can’t be left up to votes of the majority.”
One couple’s story
Oklahoma City residents Damon and Brad Hayes-Milligan traveled to California in September 2008 to do something they couldn’t do at home: Get married.
With California blocking same-sex marriage shortly after their marriage through the voter-approved passing of Proposition 8, the Oklahoma couple said they were thrilled Wednesday when a U.S. District court struck down the ban as unconstitutional.
“We are both very excited,” Damon said. “It shows the best fight is to fight with logic and thinking, and I think the logic and reasoning was very sound from the judge.”
California’s landmark decision did sent ripples across Oklahoma as supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage said the ruling could eventually have an impact on whether gay marriage will be legalized in Oklahoma and the rest of the country.
“For gay Oklahomans this is a positive for any state to have any form of (same-sex marriage) recognition,” Jenkins said. “It shows to us that people are becoming more comfortable about the visibility of gay couples and gay people being more socially accepted.”


1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • bridge work continues Portion of 4180 Road remains closed for completion of bridge work
    A portion of 4180 Road will remain closed through at least Thursday as workers complete a bridge widening project on the south end of Claremore Lake.
     

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rogers County Audit:
    A recent report issued by Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones documented Rogers County Clerk Robin Anderson solicited donations from several Rogers County vendors.
     

    April 20, 2014

  • Students paint mural Catoosa High School artists paint mural to instill respect, inspiration

    Catoosa High School students, Devin Jackson and Spencer Plumlee, recently put the finishing touches on a mural that took more than a year to complete. 

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local attorneys fight to eliminate judgment

    Claremore attorneys — Thomas H. Williams and Jack E. Gordon Jr. —   filed a petition Tuesday to vacate the $27.9 million judgment awarded to Material Service Corp. 

    April 18, 2014

  • Rogers County Water Dist. 16 receives grant

    Rogers County Rural Water District No. 16 received a $24,999 grant Tuesday to help finance expansion of the district’s water supply infrastructure.  

    April 18, 2014

  • Grand Jury recesses until June 24

    The multicounty grand jury charged with investigating accusations of misconduct by Rogers County officials recessed Thursday until June 24-26, saying it needed to hear from more witnesses before returning a finding in the matter.

    April 17, 2014

  • Harps Food opens new store in Inola

    On April 23, Harps Food Stores will reach a new milestone in their company’s history with the opening of its 75th store. 

    April 17, 2014

  • helping children Tri-County CASA seeks additional volunteers as child abuse cases increase

    From 2010-2013, Oklahoma has seen an increase in children entering foster care. According to Oklahoma Department of Human Services reports, approximately 11,000 children are in state’s custody because of child abuse or neglect — 4,000 in the Tulsa area alone and more than 100 in Rogers County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Judge refuses to dismiss Grubowski in DA suit

    A judge has denied businessman Myron Grubowski's motion to remove him from the defamation lawsuit filed by District Attorney Janice Steidley against sponsors of last fall's unsuccessful citizens petition for a local grand jury investigation of her  office.

    April 17, 2014

  • Controversial schools chief attracts crowd of opponents

    The field of candidates running for state school superintendent is unusually large — a sign of broad interest in what observers say is sure to be a referendum on the incumbent, Dr. Janet Barresi.

    April 17, 2014