Federal Court Shoots Down Oklahoma’s Same-sex Marriage Ban

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday deemed Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

 The 2-1 ruling is the second decision issued about same-sex marriage by the 10th Circuit Court. Previously, the court rejected Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. The federal appeals court is so far the highest court in the country to rule on the issue since the US Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal ban on same-sex marriages.

The case could now be appealed to the US Supreme Court. If the appeal is successful, LGBT advocates expect the nation’s highest court to strike down states’ same-sex marriage bans in a 5-4 ruling.

The decision potentially affects all states within the 10th circuit: Utah, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. But, as with the Utah decision, the 10th Circuit Court put the ruling on hold until it works through the appeals process.

The ruling cited the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause, just like other same-sex marriage cases since the Supreme Court decision in 2013.

“In upholding the district court’s substantive ruling in this case, the majority concludes that Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban … impermissibly contravenes the fundamental right to marry protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution,” 10th Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes wrote in his concurrence.

The 10th Circuit Court is the highest federal court to rule on the issue so far, but its decision is just one of many recent rulings in favor of same-sex marriage rights. Most recently, courts struck down same-sex marriage bans in Florida, Colorado, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

“Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban … impermissibly contravenes the fundamental right to marry”

Just in case:

What has the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage?

In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. The landmark 2013 ruling allowed the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and it was seen as a major victory for advocates of same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, embraced same-sex marriage advocates’ arguments. He concluded that DOMA violated constitutional protections and discriminated against gays and lesbians by preventing them from fully accessing “laws pertaining to Social Security, housing, taxes, criminal sanctions, copyright, and veterans’ benefits.”

The attorney general, in a memo issued a year after the Supreme Court decision, explained that most federal agencies had managed to adapt their policies to recognize same-sex marriages for couples, even when they live in a state that doesn’t recognize their union. The memo also noted, however, that two major agencies — the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs — will require congressional action to be able to recognize same-sex marriages from outside a couple’s state of residency.

The Supreme Court decision has led to a handful of rulings by lower federal courts that slightly expand rights for same-sex couples. Multiple federal judges, including in conservative states like Utah and Tennessee, cited the ruling in decisions that granted marriage protections — sometimes temporary — to all or some same-sex couples in their respective states.

With numerous decisions in favor of same-sex marriage now piling up, many court watchers see another Supreme Court showdown over the issue as nearly inevitable. Except this time, federal judges’ sweeping decisions at the state level might force the nation’s highest court to rule more broadly and possibly settle the issue in the United States once and for all.

Original Article: VOX

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