Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

January 16, 2014

Gay marriage rulings in Okla., Utah build momentum

OKLAHOMA CITY — In less than a month, two federal judges have struck down state bans on gay marriage for the same reason, concluding that they violate the Constitution’s promise of equal treatment under the law.

Although that idea has been the heart of the gay marriage debate for years, the decisions in deeply conservative Oklahoma and Utah offer new momentum for litigants pressing the same argument in dozens of other cases across the country. And experts say the rulings could represent an emerging legal consensus that will carry the issue back to the Supreme Court.

The judge who issued Tuesday’s decision in Oklahoma “isn’t stepping out on his own,” said Douglas NeJaime, a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine. “He’s doing what a colleague in another court did not long ago.”

The more judges who issue such rulings, the more authority other judges feel to render similar decisions, said NeJaime, who expects decisions soon from federal courts in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

An attorney for the plaintiffs in the Oklahoma case said the most important question is whether the Supreme Court agrees to decide the legality of gay marriage bans now or whether the justices bide their time.

“Will they take these two decisions or will they wait for more?” asked Don Holladay.

Litigants in more than three dozen cases are challenging gay marriage bans in 20 separate states.

A federal judge in Ohio last month ordered state authorities to recognize gay marriages on death certificates and signaled that although his ruling is a narrow one, it would undoubtedly incite more lawsuits challenging the state’s ban.

Ian James, co-founder and executive director of FreedomOhio, a civil-rights group collecting signatures to put the issue before voters, has also been working on a lawsuit to have that state’s gay marriage struck down.

James and his husband, who were married in Toronto in 2003, started working on their lawsuit long before the rulings in Utah, Oklahoma and Ohio. But those decisions have given their work renewed inertia.

“Every step along the way actually helps to increase support because people just see the inequality and how we’re treating people differently,” he said.

Shannon Fauver, who represents two men seeking to have their marriage in Canada recognized in Kentucky, said the Oklahoma and Utah rulings do not directly affect the Kentucky cases, but he added: “Realistically, all the other judges are looking to see what’s going on. It is a sea change that all the states are going this way.”

The Supreme Court decision last summer to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman triggered the series of rulings we’re now seeing, NeJaime said.

The judges in Utah and Oklahoma cited that decision heavily, essentially interpreting it to mean that same-sex bans are unconstitutional, he said.

Attorneys for same-sex couples have reminded federal judges that the high court said denying the right to marry “demeans” gay and lesbian couples and “humiliates” their children.

In the seven months since the landmark decision, the number of states allowing gay marriage has jumped from 12 to 19. Prior to Oklahoma’s ruling this week, judges in New Mexico, Ohio and even heavily Mormon Utah all ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Delta cancels all Israel flights over missile fear

    Delta Air Lines is canceling all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport.

    July 22, 2014

  • Rebels release train with bodies from downed jet

    Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll rises as truce effort intensifies

    A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel’s prime minister said he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560.

    July 22, 2014

  • CVDA meeting planned

    There will be a special called meeting of the Central Valdosta Development Authority (CVDA) Board of Directors at 5 p.m. on today, July 22.

    July 22, 2014

  • AP110722023493 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chamber initiative helps businesses save money

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce is working to offer business a way to save on workers’ compensation premiums.

    July 22, 2014

  • Intersections in Nashville getting high-tech makeovers

    Upgraded signal heads controlled by a state-of-the-art system designed to improve the efficiency and safety of traffic flow are expected to be operational by the end of September at three intersections on U.S. 129/state Route 11 in Nashville.

    July 22, 2014

  • Kingston, Perdue make final pitch in Senate race

    U.S. Senate hopefuls Jack Kingston and David Perdue hit every corner of the state in one final scramble before Georgia Republicans will choose one of them to take on Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn this fall in one of the nation’s most significant midterm election matchups.

    July 22, 2014

  • Special called meeting of the Central Valdosta Development Authority Board of Directors

    There will be a special called meeting of the Central Valdosta Development Authority (CVDA) Board of Directors at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22.

    July 21, 2014

  • Western Wildfires_Rich copy.jpg Helpful weather coming to Washington wildfires

    Cooler temperatures and lighter winds are forecast to descend on wildfire-stricken Washington state, helping firefighters battle flames that have been growing unfettered for a week and have covered hundreds of square miles.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results