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Battles Over Same-Sex Marriages Continue

Same Sex Battle.jpgLiving in California, we can sometimes forget how conservative other states are, especially in the arena of same-sex marriages.

Take Oklahoma as an example. A federal judge recently struck down a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in his state. In his 68-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern lambasted the state's ban, referring to it as arbitrary for "just one class of Oklahoma citizens."

He added in stern language that equal protection "is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions."

His ruling stemmed from a suit filed by two lesbian couples who sued federal and state officials in 2004. In 2006, the 10th Circuit ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue them, so the plaintiffs sued again, this time omitting the governor and attorney general as defendants.

Kern strenuously supported the two couples in his ruling. He stated, "Same-sex couples are being subjected to a 'naturally procreative' requirement to which no other Oklahoma citizens are subjected, including the infertile, the elderly, and those who simply do not wish to ever procreate."

He also pointed out how one of the couples had been in a long-term, committed relationship, owned property together and planned to retire together. Why should they be denied the legal standing of marriage?

Struggle Over Gay Marriage Isn't Over

If you thought the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June settled the issue of same-sex marriages in the US, you're wrong. The courts and gay couples continue to clash on this issue at the state level.

  • In Nevada, a federal judge recently ruled against eight same-sex couples who were turned away when they attempted to obtain marriage licenses. That case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, is on appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
  • In Virginia, there are two cases pending in which the plaintiffs seek the ability to wed as well as receive recognition as same-sex couples.
  • In North Carolina, there's a case involving a same-sex marriage partner who was barred from adopting a partner's child.
  • Over in Kentucky, there are two lawsuits seeking recognition of marriages that took place in another state. State officials are on the record as having said protecting "traditional marriage" is paramount to them.
  • Finally, in Mississippi, a state court refused to grant a divorce to a lesbian couple married in California. That state considers same-sex marriage as "null and void" and for their courts, the marriage doesn't exist. As an aside, in 2004 voters banned same-sex marriage by a 6-1 margin

Do you have questions about custody, guardianships, children's issues, spousal support or same-sex unions? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support, domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website. 

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