Oklahoma's gay marriage ballot measure upheld

The Oklahoma supreme court on Thursday let stand a measure to ban same-sex marriage that is scheduled for the November 2 general election ballot. In a one-sentence order signed by Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt, the court refused to assume jurisdiction in the case. That means State Question 711, which would amend the Oklahoma constitution to ban same-sex marriage, will remain on the ballot.

At a hearing earlier this month, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union argued that the proposal is vague and discriminatory. Attorneys for the state argued that Oklahomans should be allowed to vote on the issue because the supreme court has never recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry. Although the court ruled unanimously without comment not to take the case, justices Marian Opala and Yvonne Kauger issued separate opinions explaining their positions. Opala said petitioners were not entitled to "ballot-purging relief" because they had not identified "a single fatal state or federal constitutional flaw that facially taints the measure.... Absent that showing, this court is powerless to convene itself as a board of censors to purge the ballot of the referendum in question."

Kauger said the legal challenge was not filed in a timely manner--four months after legislation calling for a vote on the issue was filed with the secretary of state and after ballot printing had begun and absentee ballots had been sent out.

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