US District Judge Terence Kern specifically found that Part A of the state constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution by not affording equal benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
"The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationship for many years," Judge Kern said of one of the couples who challenged the amendment in 2004. "They own property together, wish to retire together, wish to make medical decisions for one another, and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities. Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment excludes the Bishop couple, and all otherwise eligible same-sex couples, from this privilege without a legally sufficient justification."
Kern also cited United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruling in June that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
While Kern's decision is anothervictory for same-sex marriage rights, Oklahoma same-sex couples cannot marry right away. After what happened in Utah, Kern decided to issue a stay of his decisionin anticipation of an appeal by Oklahoma, so that no same-sex couples would marry and then be unsure of their status as appeals proceed through the courts.
Media Resources: New York Times 1/14/14; ThinkProgress 1/14/14; CNN 1/14/14; Feminist Newswire 6/26/13, 10/21/13, 11/14/13, 1/6/14, 1/13/14
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .