U.S. District Judge Terence Kern announced his decision Tuesday in Tulsa.
The ruling has been stayed pending appeal, which means same-sex marriages will not occur immediately in Oklahoma.
Ryan Kiesel, executive director and spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma, called the 68-page written decision an “historic day for all of Oklahoma.”
“We have joined the national
discussion that eventually will be decided in favor of equality,”
he said. “From a legal standpoint, this means no government,
whether at the local, state or federal level, [can] discriminate
based on a person’s sexual orientation. Any discrimination against
someone based on sexual orientation is suspect and unconstitutional.”
The lawsuit was filed soon after voters
in 2004 approved a ban on same-sex marriages. Oklahoma was one of 11
states to pass the ban that year.
“Kids 25 years from now will be
reading about this in their history classes and it will have just as
big an impact as in 1967 when the Supreme Court ruled interracial
marriage was constitutional,” he said. “While we won’t be able
to get marriage licenses tomorrow it moves us forward and we are
confident it will stand on appeal.”
“This is why the American people are so frustrated with government and government officials; the people speak clearly but elected officials and judges ignore them,” he said in a prepared statement.
Lankford was referring to the 2004 constitutional amendment Oklahoma voters approved that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
Fallin said in her prepared statement she is “disappointed” in the judge’s decision.
“I am troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government,” she said. “I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters.”
Kristin Davis, president of Woven, a national online resource for gays and lesbians that's based in Oklahoma City, praised the judge’s decision.
of Woven, I’m thrilled that LGBT couples in Oklahoma will soon be
able to enjoy the benefits of legalized marriage that they have long
deserved. The judge’s decision is wonderful news for Oklahoma and
will demonstrate to the rest of the country that it is time for all
Americans to be treated equally,” she said in an emailed statement.