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Wedding bell blues

A Tulsa same-sex couple hopes their fight for marriage equality will make it to the U.S. 10th Circuit.

Clifton Adcock July 11th, 2012

Nearly seven and a half years ago, a Tulsa couple decided to file a lawsuit against the state of Oklahoma after the government decided to prevent them from becoming married.

Today, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin are still fighting the state to make their 15-year relationship official in the eyes of the law. Their suit challenging Oklahoma’s voter-approved 2004 state constitution amendment barring same-sex marriage continues to wind its way through the federal courts.

“Sharon and I are suing for the right to marry,” Bishop said.

“We’re very boring,” Baldwin added with a laugh. “We’re an old married couple.”


They might have reason for optimism. Gay-rights advocates have been able to claim some significant victories over the past few years. Recent rulings from federal courts have concluded that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and the administration of President Barack Obama, who has voiced his support of same-sex marriage, struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Despite a few setbacks, such as North Carolina’s recent voter-approved measure outlawing same-sex marriage, Bishop said she feels momentum is with marriage equality advocates.

“We know this is going to happen eventually,” she said.

Bishop and Baldwin are hoping to have their case heard by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case is currently languishing in the federal district court system.

Bishop said it likely will be appealed to the 10th Circuit, no matter what the outcome is, meaning it could eventually be picked up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop


‘Oklahoma is home’

Bishop and Baldwin praised a recent Massachusetts court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional, but they added that their case is broader than DOMA. Even if that law eventually is deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, the women said, same-sex marriage in Oklahoma would still be illegal.

“The opponents of marriage equality have nothing to offer in their arguments, other than their religious biases and tradition,” Bishop said, “neither of which should hold any weight under the law.”

Both women said they were thrilled when Obama announced he was in favor of allowing same-sex marriage. “I know he had political pressure not to do that,” Bishop said. “Even before the election, he was a brave enough man to do it.”

Bishop and Baldwin said they are confident they will see a day when their relationship will be legally recognized, but it probably won’t be easy.

“I think Oklahoma will be dragged kicking and screaming into recognizing same-sex couples,” Baldwin said.

Bishop added that they are sometimes asked why they don’t simply move to another state that does recognize same-sex marriage.

Her answer is simple:

Oklahoma is home.

“We’re Oklahomans.,” Bishop said.

“We should not have to leave our home to be granted the rights every other citizen has.”

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07.11.2012 at 12:12 Reply

You'd think that in a land as "Christian" as Oklahoma you'd find an abundance of people willing to promote love.  Sadly that's not the case.  Those who deem themselves "Christian" spend their days so transfixed on the speck in their brother's eye that they miss the plank in their own eye.

Best of luck to these ladies.