BY WANDA JO STAPLETON
“Equal Justice Under Law” is a phrase – which I have, in fact, seen – engraved on the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.
To me, “equal justice under law” when applied to marriage means “marriage equality” – both same-sex marriage and hetero-sex marriage.
Speaking of marriage, the Supreme Court justices [in this very Supreme Court building] are presently considering California’s Proposition 8 which bans same-sex marriage. These justices are also considering the federal Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA] which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Interestingly, attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, together, filed the federal lawsuit which has brought the challenge of California’s Proposition 8 to the Supreme Court. The last time Olson and Boies argued before the Supreme Court, they argued against each other in the case of Bush v Gore.
OKLAHOMA’S STATE QUESTION 711
In 2004, the Oklahoma Legislature placed SQ 711 on the November ballot. This State Question was passed by 75% of Oklahomans who voted in November 2004.
This vote added a new section of law [Article 2, Section 35] to the State Constitution. This addition to Oklahoma’s Constitution defines marriage to be between one man and one woman. It prohibits giving the benefits of marriage to people who are not married and provides that same-sex marriages in other states are not valid in Oklahoma. Finally, it makes issuing a marriage license in violation of this section a misdemeanor.
HB 2259 was the measure which placed SQ 711 on the ballot. The seven state senators who opposed this measure [on April 15, 2004] were all Democrats: Bernest Cain, Oklahoma City; Cal Hobson, Lexington; Maxine Horner, Tulsa; Angela Monson, Oklahoma City, Ben Robinson, Muskogee; Dick Wilkerson, Atwood; and Penny Williams, Tulsa.
In my opinion, these senators voted on the right side of history, given the present change of attitude regarding gay marriage. There were no Republicans in opposition.
Those opposing HB 2259 in the House [on April 22, 2004] were all Democrats. Reps. Darrell Gilbert, Tulsa; M.C. Leist, Okmulgee; Judy Eason McIntyre, Tulsa, and Opio Toure, Oklahoma City. Again, there were no Republicans in opposition.
In my opinion, it would be great if the Supreme Court struck down California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]. As the saying goes, “it could happen!”
If that happens, the Supreme Court’s action would nullify Oklahoma’s SQ 711. Then the Oklahoma legislators listed above will finally be recognized as heroes because they had the vision to vote in agreement with the U.S. Supreme Court.
– Wanda Jo Stapleton is a former Democratic state representative from Oklahoma City and a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer