Proposed Oklahoma marriage ban draws court challenge
May 25 2004 11:00 PM ET
Supporters of same-sex marriage in Oklahoma plan a court challenge to the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state. The Progressive Alliance Foundation is working to raise money to finance an American Civil Liberties Union challenge to State Question 711, due on the November 2 ballot. "We think it's a totally unconstitutional piece of legislation," said ACLU lobbyist Keith Smith. "We're going to have it tested in the courts." Smith added that all the rhetoric surrounding gay marriage is a diversionary tactic by the Republican Party. "They want to distract Oklahomans from all the bad Republican news and refocus on these made-up, controversial issues," Smith said.
State representative Thad Balkman (R-Norman) called the legal challenge "frivolous.... This is a blatant attempt to circumvent the legislature's vote regarding gay marriage. It will cost Oklahoma taxpayers thousands of dollars to defend against this suit, dollars that could be better spent on priorities such as bridges and highways, public safety, and education." Balkman said recent polls show most Oklahomans oppose marriage for same-sex couples and that opposition to gay marriage is a bipartisan issue.
Oklahoma Democratic Party chairman Jay Parmley said the PAF and the party have no official relationship. "This is an independent foundation that has the right to do whatever it wants," Parmley said. "If they want to try to block the gay marriage amendment, they have every right to do that, just as a right-leaning group would have every right to countersue as well."