The state of Oklahoma does not allow for marriage licenses to be issued to gay couples. Not only is issuing marriage licenses to gay couples prohibited, it is a misdemeanor. Gay marriages are prohibited by statute and constitutional amendment, which was approved in 2004; other legal relationships and those granted in other states are also banned. Discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation has yet to be addressed. Sexual orientation, however, is not a factor when a single adult decides to adopt.
The constitution states that:
“Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of parties legally competent of contracting and of entering into it is necessary, and the marriage relation shall only be entered into, maintained or abrogated as provided by law. 43 Oklahoma Statute Ann. ‘ 3.1”
Retired Oklahoma City minister Jim Gragg is leading a group of United Methodists across the state in signing a statement in support of gay marriage. As of March 2012 they have collected the signatures of sixty-two clergy and 203 members. According to the Oklahoma United Methodist Conference there are about 300,000 Methodists in Oklahoma. Gragg says his church has “historically been inclusive and that doctrines and attitudes against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people contradict the vows ministers take to minister to all people.” His work is a refreshing change from how many religious groups and communities feel about equal marriage and gay rights.
Oklahoma is also home to the infamous State House representative Sally Kern. In 2009 she sponsored the signing of a “morality proclamation” that blamed the country’s economic problems on “declining moral values, including same-sex marriage, divorce, abortion and child abuse.” Just the year before she made national news for saying that homosexuality was a greater threat than terrorism and that “the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation.”
In 2010 she ran against and defeated a transgender lawyer, Brittany Novotny.
Other laws regarding gay couples are also important, not to mention questionable in Oklahoma. The state has laws keeping more than one individual of the same sex (from another jurisdiction) from officially adopting or partaking in foster care; there are no laws regarding second-parent adoption. Lastly, sexual orientation and gender identity are not included in hate crime laws.
It is unclear if there are any lawsuits or other forms of legal action underway to challenge Oklahoma’s gay rights laws in general. Apart from gay marriage, the state could do much more to improve existing legislation to at least grant basic rights (like safety) to LGBT individuals.
- Can gay couples marry in Oklahoma? No.
- Can gay couples enter into other legal unions? No.
- Are legal unions between gay couples that were granted elsewhere recognized? No.