January 15, 2014 Print

Judge Redefines Marriage in Oklahoma

by Bethany Monk

A federal judge Tuesday struck down Oklahoma’s marriage amendment that defines the institution as a union between one man and one woman.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment in 2004. Shortly after, two couples filed suit claiming the law violates the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern stopped his ruling from taking effect while the case is appealed.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione said the ruling completely dismisses the will of the people.

“The ruling in this case ignores that time-tested and rational definition of marriage — affirmed by 76 percent of Oklahoma voters — and replaces it with the recently conceived notion that marriage is little more than special government recognition for close relationships,” Babione explained. “A court should not impose this novel view of marriage on the people of Oklahoma. We will review the decision with our client, the Tulsa County clerk, and consider her next steps.”

Pro-family groups underscored the serious impact of the ruling.

“This activist judge is overrunning both the Constitution and the rule of law in a drive to fundamentally alter America’s moral, political and cultural landscape,” said Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins. “He is substituting his own ideology for the three quarters of Oklahomans who voted to preserve marriage in their Constitution.”

Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht said the decision will only accelerate the ongoing threats to religious freedom across the country.

“The more states that get on this ‘judicial bandwagon’ of having their marriage amendments declared unconstitutional,” he explained, “the more we’re going to have collisions between the free exercise of religion by business owners and the new normal, which is going to be same-sex marriage.”

Perkins pointed out the serious, real-life consequences of redefining marriage. For example, the Colorado cake maker risking jail if he refuses to obey a court order. He was ordered to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex ceremony, even though it violates his faith.

“These consequences continue to draw more Americans’ attention to the serious threat to free speech and religious liberty posed by the redefinition of marriage,” Perkins said. “Rather than live-and-let-live, this court, by redefining marriage, will force people to violate the basic teachings of their faith, or lose their jobs.”

Read the opinion in Bishop v. U.S.A.