Oklahomans React To Same Sex Marriage Ruling By U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. In a 5-4 decision Friday, the justices struck down bans on gay marriage that were in place in several states across the country.
Same sex marriage has been legal in Oklahoma since October 6, 2014, but neighboring states like Texas and Arkansas have enforced bans.
Ryan Kiesel with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma says the Supreme Court’s decision means gay couples can now travel freely between state lines without the fear of losing their rights.
“Just yesterday, if someone got in their car and they drove to Texas, a same sex couple married in Oklahoma drives to Texas, as soon as they cross the Red River, they were no longer married,” Kiesel said. “That’s not true today.”
The decision comes on the anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, which decriminalized gay relationships throughout the country in 2003, as well as the anniversary of the Windsor decision, which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBTQ advocacy group, says Friday’s decision provides closure for many couples across the state.
"There was always that inkling of ‘Could something happen? Could it be taken away? Could the court do something? Could it?’ That's gone. Their marriages are safe,” Stevenson said.
Even though same sex marriage is legal, Stevenson says his group’s battle is far from over. There are currently no laws in Oklahoma protecting gay couples from discrimination.
In Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley Friday afternoon, the justices’ ruling encouraged Andrea Nguyen.
“It should've been legalized a long time ago as far as I'm concerned. I don't know why it took so long,” she said.
While most people on the street shared Nguyen’s views, not everyone was as enthused.
Don Payne argued the decision a mistake and said marriage should be between a man and a woman.
“Just because they change laws to make it legal does not make it right, does not make it morally correct, does not make it function better than it's been for thousands and thousands of years,” Payne said.
The Most Rev. Paul Coakley, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, called the Court's ruling "a tragic error."
U.S. Senator James Lankford said in a statement he was “disappointed” in the decision.
Gov. Mary Fallin said the Supreme Court’s move was “another blow to states and their ability to govern themselves without federal interference.”
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