To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, October 2, 2022


Vindication Near?



“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.


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



  1. I keep hearing as justification for marriage equality the argument we should have the right to marry the person we love. While this is a good reason it’s not the exclusive reason.

    I doubt if all married straights are as in love as when they were married and the same goes for same-gender couples who have legal marriage as well. Perhaps both sets of couples are even more in love since their wedding day–we’re all human and share many of the same foibles. Many have tried to find the right person more than once.

    However, I couldn’t love Don, my partner of 36 years, any stronger even if we did have a marriage license. What I demand is the recognition of the state and federal benefits that come with marriage equality. The question of “love” is not on any marriage license or government certificate that I’ve heard about.

    I’m funding my Social Security right now with money I have worked for through employer deductions. In other words, by being employed, I’m contributing both to my own economic stability as well as the society I live in.

    I demand the right to have Don receive the survivor’s benefits that will come his way should I die before he does and vice-versa. I demand the right to make my own decisions concerning my private life as well as the decisions I must make as required by law.

    Full coverage of my citizenship under the 14th Amendment is what I demand of the upcoming two rulings from the Supreme Court.

  2. Jim,
    Your and Don’s enduring love is wonderful. Oklahoma, by refusing you the benefit of marriage (with its accompanying survivors’ benefits) is seriously discriminatory. I’m in a position to understand the importance of survivors’ benefits because my beloved Bob arranged for me to have a good portion of his federal retirement pay plus his retirement pay from the City of Dallas. Without those benefits, I would be at the poverty level. So I pray that the Supreme Court will force this backward state to allow you and Don the benefits of marriage with all the financial advantages thereof.
    Wanda Jo

  3. There’s another very important benefit because of the marriage contract—a benefit denied to gay couples because Oklahoma won’t allow them to marry. I got to stay on my late hunband Bob’s government employees health insurance. That’s a really big deal, worth much more than money. There’s no way anyone would sell me supplemental health insurance (to go with my Medicare) at my age.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.