The last thing most people want to do is read a court ruling. They’re tiresome, filled with legal jargon, footnotes, and all sorts of oddities.
So I did.
Yesterday, United States District Judge Terence C. Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it “violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” — another huge win for marriage equality.
(We should note he stayed his ruling upon appeal, so Oklahoma same-sex couples can’t marry yet.)
And Judge Kern took a sledge hammer to every argument the anti-gay and religious right is using to prevent same-ex couples from marrying.
It’s actually so affirming of the rights of same-sex couples it may make you glow for the rest of the day.
The Judge notes that Oklahoma’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage “intentionally discriminates.”
He labeled Oklahoma’s ban “a classic, class-based equal protection case,” and cited numerous press releases noting animus as the reason the law was passed, like this:
State Representative Bill Graves said, “‘This is a Bible Belt state . . . . Most people don’t want that sort of thing here. . . . Gay people might call it discrimination, but I call it upholding morality.’”
And he effectively slammed every so-called “pro-family” anti-gay group, every evangelical and every Christian organization’s arguments against marriage equality.
The Court recognizes that moral disapproval often stems from deeply held religious convictions… However, moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification for a law.
But wait — it gets better!
Judge Kern writes “there is no rational link between excluding same-sex couples from marriage and the goals of encouraging ‘responsible procreation’ among the ‘naturally procreative’ and/or steering the ‘naturally procreative’ toward marriage.”
Permitting same-sex couples to receive a marriage license does not harm, erode, or somehow water-down the “procreative” origins of the marriage institution, any more than marriages of couples who cannot “naturally procreate” or do not ever wish to “naturally procreate.”
And then, bingo!
If a same-sex couple is capable of having a child with or without a marriage relationship, and the articulated state goal is to reduce children born outside of a marital relationship, the challenged exclusion hinders rather than promotes that goal.
Kern keeps on hitting it out of the ballpark, exploding the so-called “every child deserves a mom and a dad” claim groups like NOM and the Family Research Council use.
He writes “the Court cannot discern, a single way that excluding same-sex couples from marriage will ‘promote’ this ‘ideal’ child-rearing environment. Exclusion from marriage does not make it more likely that a same-sex couple desiring children, or already raising children together, will change course and marry an opposite-sex partner…”
“The Court concludes that denial of same-sex couples from marriage “does nothing to promote stability in heterosexual parenting.””
Excluding same-sex couples from marriage has done little to keep Oklahoma families together thus far, as Oklahoma consistently has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.
And then, finally, this:
“Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived ‘threat’ they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority’s disapproval of the defined class. It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships.”
Now, doesn’t that feel good?
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.