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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 13, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 11
Oklahoma House abolishes marriage licenses - If we have to license same-sex couples we won't license anyone, lawmakers say
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Oklahoma House abolishes marriage licenses - If we have to license same-sex couples we won't license anyone, lawmakers say

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a bill abolishing marriage licenses.

The measure, passed on March 10 by a lopsided 67-24 vote, would substitute after-the-fact 'certificates of marriage' filled out by whoever officiates a marriage ceremony.

Bill sponsor Rep. Todd Russ said he introduced the measure to 'protect' Oklahoma county clerks who do not want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

'This takes them out of the trap,' he said, meaning that they could be found in contempt of court if they refused federal court orders to issue licenses to Gay and Lesbian couples.

Ironically, the bill also deletes language limiting marriage in Oklahoma to opposite-sex couples. Other marriage restrictions would remain unchanged.

Democrats who opposed the measure charged that Republican foes of same-sex marriage were creating a scenario in which Oklahoma would legalize same-sex marriage even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns lower court rulings the bill seeks to counter.

Supporters of the bill said that it only removes the state from the marriage process.

'Marriage was not instituted by government,' said Rep. Dennis Johnson during debate on the bill. 'It was instituted by God. There is no reason for Oklahoma or any state to be involved in marriage.'

Johnson did allow, however, that the state does have an interest in preventing such things as incest, polygamy and marriage of minors.

Democratic Minority Leader Scott Inman argued that preventing marriages of minors might be harder to do under the proposal because court clerks would no longer be in a position to require proof of identity and age.

The House bill now goes to the Oklahoma Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans.

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