For most Oklahomans, the thought of same-sex marriage is synonymous with flamboyance, glitter, and rainbows — and for some same-sex couples, that’s may be exactly what the perfect wedding might entail.
However, considering the milestones the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered community has recently made, it’s time we rid our minds of stereotypes and embrace progression.
I get that Oklahoma prides itself on being the “heart” of the Bible belt. There’s a church on every street corner, and Gov. Mary Fallin has publicly opposed same-sex marriage on several occasions.
Anti-gay Oklahomans were content with the fact that the state’s constitution retains marriage rights exclusively to opposite-sex couples —until last week when that was ruled unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, Jan. 14, in Tulsa, U.S. District Court Judge Terence Kern declared that Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Kern said “moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification” for the ban to remain.
Fallin said she was “disappointed in the judge’s ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government.”
Furthermore, Fallin said Kern’s decision opposed 75 percent of Oklahoma voters who believe marriage should remain between a man and woman when the ban was upheld in 2004. But how much have those numbers changed since?
The two lesbian couples that challenged the Oklahoma’s ban on gay marriage in 2004 have waited a decade for this to happen — and they won’t quit now.
Susan Barton,one of the women involved, said she “[couldn’t] stay in this for nine years and not have faith.” She said she and her partner feel like they’re married already but she “[wants] our state to recognize our marriage.”
It’s admirable that these women have fought for so long and it’s assuring to know their efforts haven’t all been in vain. Whether the state will uphold the ruling and recognize same-sex marriages is a decision that will come later but, with this much progress made already, there’s hope that Oklahomans might exercise some empathy.
We have to remember that the concept of marriage is just that — a concept — and its interpretation is different to each of us. Though Oklahoma is the Bible belt’s pride and joy, its overall perspective of marriage remaining between a man and woman does not represent the views of everyone. Moreover, two people don’t have to agree on a particular matter for the right decision to be made (and it’s not always on the right side).
Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is not only insensitive, it’s illogical, and it inhibits a segment of its citizens from exercising their rights under federal law. It’s not the concept of marriage that Barton and her partner are fighting for; it’s the principle — why shouldn’t the state they call home recognize their marriage as valid?
I trust that soon enough, Oklahoma’s ban will be lifted. It may not be today, tomorrow or even this year, but the impetus behind change is far too strong to avoid.
Love is about hearts, not parts.
To contact Siali Siaosi, email firstname.lastname@example.org.