Oklahoma senate passes constitutional marriage ban
April 17 2004 12:00 AM ET
Oklahoma voters would decide whether to enact a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage under a measure approved on Thursday in the Oklahoma senate. Senate Republican leader James Williamson offered a version of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman and would prohibit the state from recognizing gay marriages performed outside the state. The proposal, which passed on a final vote of 38-7, now heads to the full house for consideration. If approved, the issue will be placed on the November general-election ballot. State law already prohibits same-sex marriage, but the constitution can be amended only by a vote of the people.
"I am thankful to the senate's Democratic leadership for finally giving up their efforts to keep the people from voting on the marriage protection amendment," said Williamson (R-Tulsa). "All we wanted all along was for the Democratic leadership to allow an up or down vote on this issue and to allow the senate to work its will."
Opponents of the proposal argued that the ban would restrict the civil rights of Oklahoma citizens. "Gay people want to have some type of civil rights just like the rest of us," said Bernest Cain (D-Oklahoma City). "If you're not for gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex." Sen. Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) attempted to insert language that would allow voters to determine whether cockfighting should be a county option, but that measure was tabled.