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10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in Oklahoma

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DENVER -- For the second time, a federal appeals court in Denver has ruled states cannot prevent gay people from getting married.

Coming on the heels of its decision last month that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the same conclusion in an Oklahoma case Friday.

Lower courts had struck down voter-approved bans in those states, and the rulings by the 10th Circuit are the first at the appellate level since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013.

RELATED: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling

The ruling referred to Court's previous decision in the Utah case; the new element in the Oklahoma ruling is related to standing, with the Court holding that the plaintiffs challenging Oklahoma's failure to recognize their out-of-state same-sex marriages lacked standing to do so.

"While the opinion thus does not grant equal marriage rights to those married out of state, it hints strongly that failure to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages would be found unconstitutional if challenged by a plaintiff with standing,"said Nancy Leong, a constitutional law professor at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law.

"Although it would not be appropriate to definitively opine on the matter, it is fair to surmise that the court’s decision in [the Utah same-sex marriage case] casts serious doubt on the continuing vitality of" not recognizing out-of-state marriages."

The Utah and Oklahoma cases are expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court, and gay marriage in both states will stay on hold until the appeals process plays out.

Since the DOMA ruling, more than 20 courts have ruled gay marriage is unconstitutional, with rulings in 17 states.

After the Utah ruling, Boulder County began issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers went to court to get the county to stop but was denied.

That's when Denver and Pueblo counties began issuing licenses. Suthers and Gov. John Hickenlooper want the Colorado Supreme Court to rule whether county clerks can issue licenses.



    • George

      You’re an idiot. Go back to school, that’s their JOB designed by the founding fathers to ensure that all three aspects of the government has equal power. The Judicial JOB is to check the validity and constitutionality of laws.

      • Dick Peabody

        First of all, George, acting as some kind of “super” legislature was NOT the job of the courts as envisioned by the Founders. Far too many of these courts have been acting as though the few individuals that comprise them have the authority to overrule the will of the people and/or their elected officials whenever they “find” something in the US Constitution that they wish to find. There is NO right to marriage in the Constitution. It is absolutely within the purview of the people to decide what marriage is. These courts are absolutely out of control and these black-robed monkeys need to be term-limited.

  • Brenn

    Just goes to show how common sense is NO factor in decision making in this state and country..Its all about laws, by the book to a Tee! Citizens go to libraries , brush up on your rights and laws and make friends with lawyers if you can. Its not what you know, its who you know (john hickenlooper)… Smh

    • One had nothing to do with the other

      And what exactly does Hickenlooper have to do with a FEDERAL appeals court? Right, nothing.

    • The constitution is a living document

      You mean the constitution where black people count as 3/5 of a person and alcohol was banned?
      Oh, right, laws can change…

  • Anonymous

    What are the names of these judges? I want to make sure I don’t vote for them when it comes time for re-election.

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