Now that a federal court has ruled in favor of marriage equality in Oklahoma, one conservative legislator has an idea for getting around the decision: Get the state out of the marriage business altogether.
“[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all,” Republican state representative Mike Turner told Oklahoma City’s KWTV in a report broadcast Friday.
Turner’s opponents consider his proposal simply political grandstanding, but he insists it’s serious and that he has allies in the legislature. When KWTV reporter Michael Konopasek asked him, “Would it be realistic for the State of Oklahoma to say, ‘We’re not going to do marriage period,’” Turner replied, “That would definitely be a realistic opportunity, and it’s something that would be part of the discussion.”
The pro–marriage equality ruling, issued by U.S. District Judge Terence Kern January 14, is on hold while the state appeals it, but there is a “shell bill” in the legislature that lawmakers could change at any time in reaction to further rulings, according to the TV station. Turner also recently filed a bill calling for a second vote to ban same-sex marriage in the state. Oklahoma voters added the ban to their state constitution in 2004, but Kern ruled that the state measure violates the U.S. Constitution.
The idea of ending the state’s role in marriage so it could avoid dealing with same-sex marriages, while occasionally discussed, has never been seriously proposed as legislation, said Ryan Kiesel, executive detector of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Oklahoma affiliate. Any legislators considering such a move are “out of touch with most Oklahomans,” Kiesel told KWTV.
“Moving forward I think we’ll see less efforts like this,” he added.
Watch the report below.