Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage was an “an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a government benefit," U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled on Tuesday. As if to help Kern make his point, State Rep. Sally Kern (no relation, we presume) issued an angry response to the recent decision. "Homosexuality," she said, "is not a civil right. It's a human wrong."
The conservative lawmaker also referenced the false notion that LGBT individuals choose their orientation: "Homosexuals are saying this is who we are. This is how we're born. You tell a lie long enough, people start to believe it."
Sally Kern was speaking to KOTV, who also interviewed the author of the amendment, former state lawmaker James Williamson. Williamson's defense of his bill was more of a rebuke of the judge who overturned it: "The federal courts have always taken a much more activist view of the constitution and so that was always a risk that they were going to see that," he said.
Sally Kern's response is a pitch-perfect example of one of the two most common defenses of same-sex marriage laws in the U.S.: the belief that it is a moral wrong. The other, related argument, is that same-sex marriages are not created for the purpose of procreation, and are therefore a threat to "traditional" marriages. Neither of these arguments, it should be noted, rely solidly on constitutional protections. But after the Supreme Court struck down some of the Defense of Marriage Act, it looks more and more like equal marriage does. Both Utah and Oklahoma's decisions against same-sex marriage bans cite the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. "Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed," Judge Kern wrote, "It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions."
The federal decision, as some have argued, is far from a perfect response to the comparatively weak arguments in defense of same-sex marriage bans. But its an example of an emerging yet unresolved consensus in the courts that equal marriage is a constitutionally-protected right.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.