Updated: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the hotly contested issue of gay marriage, a surprise move that will allow gay men and women to marry in five states where same-sex weddings were previously banned.
By rejecting appeals in cases involving Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana, the court left intact lower-court rulings that struck down bans in those states. Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) declared the decision “judicial gymnastics” and Governor Mary Fallin noting, over 75 percent of Oklahoma voters define marriage as union between one man and one woman
Other states under the jurisdiction of appeals courts that struck down the bans will also be affected, meaning the number of states with gay marriage is likely to quickly jump from 19 to 30. The other states would be North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas and Colorado.
The high court’s decision not to hear the cases was unexpected because most legal experts believed it would want to weigh in on a question of national importance that focuses on whether the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law means gay marriage bans were unlawful.
The issue could still return to the court, but the message sent by the court in declining to hear the matter would be a boost to gay marriage advocates involved in similar litigation in states that still have bans on the books.
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Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.) issued the following statement after the Supreme Court today denied without comment the seven petitions:
“The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the federal government cannot deny marriage recognition to any person, if the state recognized the marriage, because marriage is a state institution.
The Windsor case detailed the majority opinion of the Supreme Court by stating, ‘By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate states.’
“Now, through judicial gymnastics the Supreme Court has allowed federal court decisions to stand that directly conflict with the clear will of a state on marriage. The Court should not in one year say a state can make the decision on marriage and then in the next year allow a local federal judge to reject a state’s definition of marriage. The implications of forcing any state to redefine marriage have far-reaching effects on our American society, business operations and religious practice. Every person is created in God’s image and has value and worth. Every person should be respected and honored. But, marriage is a unique cultural relationship that has a long-standing tradition and societal meaning, which should not be redefined by the courts.”
Governor Mary Fallin said, “The people of Oklahoma have the right to determine how marriage is defined. In 2004, Oklahomans exercised that right, voting by a margin of 3-1 to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“The will of the people has now been overridden by unelected federal justices, accountable to no one. That is both undemocratic and a violation of states’ rights. Rather than allowing states to make their own policies that reflect the values and views of their residents, federal judges have inserted themselves into a state issue to pursue their own agendas.
“Today’s decision has been cast by the media as a victory for gay rights. What has been ignored, however, is the right of Oklahomans – and Americans in every state – to write their own laws and govern themselves as they see fit. Those rights have once again been trampled by an arrogant, out-of -control federal government that wants to substitute Oklahoma values with Washington, D.C. values.”
Coverage will be updated as Oklahoma officials and advocates weigh in on topic. Your comments are welcome below.