Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Gaily News: Oklahoma's gay marriage ban struck down

Posted by on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Oklahoma.jpg
  • Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
On Tuesday, a federal judge struck down Oklahoma’s law banning same-sex marriage, declaring it unconstitutional.

In Bishop et al v. United States, U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern ruled that the state’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause under the 14th amendment. The case involves two couples that challenged Oklahoma’s ban in 2004.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean gay couples can walk down the aisle just yet: Kern immediately stayed his ruling pending appeals.

The state’s voter-mandated gay marriage ban was passed nine years ago with 75 percent support.

Gov. Mary Fallin expressed disappointment in Kern’s ruling. In a statement, she said, "The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma's voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters."

In his 68-page opinion, Kern, however, called the ban “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit,” and wrote that gays are excluded from marriage “without a legally sufficient justification.”

More LGBT news

• Eleven major Florida businesses have teamed up with Equality Florida to form the Florida Business Coalition for a Competitive Workforce.

The group’s primary aim is to support the passage of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act (HB 239/SB 348), a bipartisan bill that would ban anti-gay and gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

The 11 companies backing the bill, which are also some of the state’s largest employers, include C1 Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Florida Blue, Haskell, HSN, Tech Data, University of North Florida, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo.

“We are proud to see so many of Florida’s largest employers taking a stand to encourage the legislature to pass the Competitive Workforce Act,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “Increasingly we hear from companies that are contemplating relocation or expansion, and they want reassurance that their diverse work force will be able to live in a state where they and their families will be treated fairly. The corporate culture understands that top talent looks not only at a company’s internal policies, but also at the community they will call home.”

• A new study finds that gay couples are likely to be happier than their heterosexual counterparts.

The British study, published by the Open University, surveyed 5,000 people to learn how modern couples maintain their relationships despite life’s challenges.

The research also found that while same-sex couples might be happier, they’re also less likely to be affectionate in public, fearing disapproval. And childless couples — both gay and straight — are the happiest overall.

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