Oklahoma reacts to ruling on marriage

Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a statement on U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on Same-Sex Marriage today said, “The Court’s decisions confirmed that it is up to the states to decide how to define marriage, not the federal government.”

Attorney General Pruitt continued saying, “As a result, Oklahoma’s constitutional provision that defines marriage in Oklahoma as between a man and a woman remains valid.”

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) said, “In  its ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, I’m disappointed the Supreme Court made a decision that overrides the clear intent of two branches of government.  With this decision, five judges have violated the freedom of conscience of millions of Americans.  Regardless of what people believe about this issue, it should be resolved by We the People, not the Courts.  Our nation was fully capable of resolving this issue without the Court’s cultural and moral commentary.  By taking sides in this debate, the Supreme Court has discouraged any American who believes marriage is a union between one man and one woman from legislating – and even thinking – differently from the Court.

“Even though the Court refrained from striking down state laws like the one in Oklahoma, those laws are far from safe.  As Justice Scalia wrote, ‘By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition,” Coburn said

House Republican Policy Committee Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) was also disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today.

MarriageDOMAThe Defense of Marriage Act has been the law of the land since President Clinton signed DOMA into law on September 21, 1996 after overwhelmingly passing both houses of Congress. The provision of law in question under this case was Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which provides the federal definition.

Section 3 of DOMA states, “In determining the meaning of any act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

“We are and always have been a nation of families. In America two adults are free to live any lifestyle they choose, but marriage has always been a man and a woman committed for life to each other,” said Lankford.

Federal law specifically defined marriage in order to clarify how individuals receive federal benefits. Every person is equal under the law and should be treated with respect, but not every relationship is a marriage. This ruling does not settle the issue for Americans, but it does create a new dilemma for those with deeply held religious beliefs and those who believe that it is best for children to have both a mother and a father.

MarriageProp“The issue of marriage was settled in Oklahoma in 2004 in State Question 711 with 75.59% of people supporting the definition as one man and one woman and again in our State House last session with a vote of 84-0. The 1996 DOMA law was designed to protect states that defined marriage between a man and woman. But in a feigned appeal to state’s rights, the Supreme Court today mandated that for all federal purposes, the citizens and State of Oklahoma must surrender their rights to any new definition of marriage.

“In the days ahead, this mixed message about marriage will add unknowable complications to American families and further strain the relationship between the federal government and the people.  I will continue to pray for our nation as we process this change in our deeply rooted value of marriage,” concluded Lankford.

The Catholic Diocese of Tulsa released this statement:

We are grieved that the cultural understanding of marriage has shifted so drastically. Throughout history, even in cultures that accepted homosexual behavior, the understanding of marriage has remained largely the same – a union for the preservation of family and society. Recently we have seen an assault on marriage and the family occurring across the globe.

The response of the Catholic Church is universal and unchanged. Marriage is not a societal construct, but is rather an institution given by God and written in the laws of nature, established at the creation of the world. With this in mind, no government power has the authority to redefine the essence of marriage. Their redefinition only causes them to speak incorrectly about marriage.

Marriage is the intimate, exclusive, indissoluble communion of life and love entered by man and woman at the design of the Creator for the purpose of their own good and the procreation and education of children. God created us male and female, and the beauty of marriage is in the complementarity of the genders from which the human race continues in a loving way.”

Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization wrote that the Supreme Court crossed a line in striking down DOMA.  First noting the opinions released on California’s Proposition 8 state marriage amendment (Prop 8) and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the counsel issued the following release:

Justice Kennedy, writing the DOMA decision under an Equal Protection rationale, strikes down Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as one man and one woman for purposes of federal law and federal benefits, specifically joint federal tax returns, Social Security survivor benefits, and federal employee health insurance and medical benefits. Not at issue in this ruling are the other parts of DOMA, including the section that says states may define their own marriage policy and are not required to accept a sister state’s same-sex marriage. “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” wrote Kennedy. Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent that the Court’s errors, both in explaining its jurisdiction and its decision, “spring from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.”

Regarding the Prop 8 case, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the 5-4 decision of the Court, dismissed the case on standing, meaning that the Court lacks jurisdiction to reach the merits because the Prop 8 Intervenors lacked standing to litigate the case, after the California State Attorney General ceased defending it following the lower federal district court opinion. This means that the lower court governing the Northern District of California stands. Thus, only the decision striking down Prop 8 by the lower district court remains in effect. The remaining parts of California are unaffected. No doubt litigation will ensue in the Southern and Middle Districts of California.

Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “Today, the United States Supreme Court has lost its legitimacy as an arbiter of the Constitution and the rule of law. Today is the death of the Court’s legacy, because the decision in the Federal Defense of Marriage Act case defies logic and is a pure invention of a handful of Justices.”

GayTulsa2Justice O’Connor, writing in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Penn. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 864-869 (1992), candidly acknowledged, “The root of American governmental power is revealed most clearly in the instance of the power conferred by the Constitution upon the Judiciary of the United States and specifically upon this Court. As Americans of each succeeding generation are rightly told, the Court cannot buy support for its decisions by spending money and, except to a minor degree, it cannot independently coerce obedience to its decrees. The Court’s power lies, rather, in its legitimacy, a product of substance and perception that shows itself in the people’s acceptance of the Judiciary as fit to determine what the Nation’s law means and to declare what it demands.

“The underlying substance of this legitimacy is of course the warrant for the Court’s decisions in the Constitution and the lesser sources of legal principle on which the Court draws,” O’Connor continued. “The Court must take care to speak and act in ways that allow people to accept its decisions on the terms the Court claims for them, as grounded truly in principle, not as compromises with social and political pressures having, as such, no bearing on the principled choices that the Court is obliged to make. Thus, the Court’s legitimacy depends on making legally principled decisions under circumstances in which their principled character is sufficiently plausible to be accepted by the Nation.”

GayCoupleFirstAdoptUSMarriage predates government and civil authorities,” Staver said. “No civil authority, including the Supreme Court, has the authority to redefine marriage. Marriage was not created by religion or government and is ontologically a union of one man and one woman. For any Court or civil authority to think it has the authority to redefine marriage is the height of hubris. Deconstructing marriage will hurt children and society. While today’s decision on DOMA did not redefine marriage, it has provided the foundation on which to do so. Today’s decision is the equivalent of the 1972 contraception decision involving unmarried couples and the so-called right to privacy on which the 1973 abortion decision in Roe v. Wade was constructed. Today, the Supreme Court has damaged its image, lost legitimacy, and set in motion considerable harm to society and to the State of the Union,” concluded Staver.