Marriage Equality: Oklahoma Attempting To Take Government Out Of Marriage

This spring, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on marriage equality, and 17 states have petitioned the lifting of the gay marriage ban, which the Inquisitr covered.

With the heated debate on marriage equality, Oklahoma is now attempting to take the federal government out of the institution of marriage altogether. On March 10, a bill was passed in the state of Oklahoma that would abolish marriage license’s altogether. Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, who authored the legislation, removed all wording pertaining to marriage license of the books.

Marriage essentially is a contract that two parties enter in that are of consenting age, and with that comes certain benefits granted by federal law. The gay community in Oklahoma is not happy about this bill since they feel that they would then not be afforded the benefits of being married. This bill truly is seen by some people as real marriage equality.

The bill is in an attempt to protect the clerks of court who are caught in the middle of the federal government and the state. Last year, a federal appeals court struck down a marriage ban in the state that Russ and Governor Mary Falin believe overstepped their constitutional authority.

Russ does recognize that the bill is a way to counteract the constitutional overreach by handing the power back to the states. Russ states that the federal government does not have the power to “force its new definitions of what they believe on independent states.”

This bill takes the power of marriage and puts it into the hands of the clergy. If the clergy does not want to marry someone, they have the power to deny them a marriage license. Americans United, who oppose the bill, said that it discriminates against gay couples who are not religious. Russ states that is not so and that there are options.

“They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect,then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”

There are some Democrat opponents to the bill that feel that this could open up a plethora of other issues. The Democrats feel that by taking government out of marriage and placing the responsibility of it in the hands of the clergy, this will allow polygamous marriages.

The LGBT community feels that this bill is discriminatory by protecting the clergy and not their rights. The other side of the coin is that this puts the power back into individual rights. Now the federal government cannot force people to marry someone who they do not want to. This does not just have to apply to the LGBT community, but also to those who do not practice certain religions, by making them marry those outside of their faith. To some people, this is the first real marriage equality bill.

[Image Credit Personal Liberty]