US judge strikes down Oklahoma same-sex marriage ban

By: The Associated Press
January 14, 2014 Updated: January 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm
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photo - FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2013 file photo, Dan Trujillo, left, and Clyde Peck get married as about 1,500 people gather to show support of marriage equality at Washington Square, just outside of the Salt Lake City and County Building in Salt Lake City. The Supreme Court on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue. The court issued a brief order blocking any new same-sex unions in the state. The order grants an emergency appeal by the state following the Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples' constitutional rights. More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since then. (AP Photo/The Deseret News, Tom Smart, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2013 file photo, Dan Trujillo, left, and Clyde Peck get married as about 1,500 people gather to show support of marriage equality at Washington Square, just outside of the Salt Lake City and County Building in Salt Lake City. The Supreme Court on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue. The court issued a brief order blocking any new same-sex unions in the state. The order grants an emergency appeal by the state following the Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples' constitutional rights. More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since then. (AP Photo/The Deseret News, Tom Smart, File) 

TULSA, Okla. — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern handed down the ruling in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. Kern immediately stayed his ruling pending appeals, meaning gay marriages won't happen in Oklahoma right away.

The gay couples had sued for the right to marry and to have a marriage from another jurisdiction recognized in Oklahoma.

Kern ruled on a constitutional amendment approved by Oklahoma voters in 2004 that says marriage in the state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. He said the measure violates the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause by precluding same-sex couples from receiving an Oklahoma marriage license.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office did not immediately have a comment on the ruling.

The Oklahoma ruling comes about a month after a federal judge in Utah overturned that state's ban on same-sex marriage and hundreds of couples got married. The U.S. Supreme Court later intervened and put a halt to the weddings there until the courts sort out the matter.

The Oklahoma judge cited that case in staying his ruling.

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