On August 6, our attorneys representing Sally Howe Smith, a county clerk in Oklahoma, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the freedom of Oklahomans to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their laws.
In 2009, a same-sex couple allegedly asked Smith’s office to issue a marriage license to them. She, however, cannot legally issue a marriage license to two people of the same sex, so neither she nor her office could honor that request.
In our petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, we explained that while some are seeking to redefine marriage from a gendered (man-woman) institution, others want to preserve marriage as a gendered institution because redefining it would risk undermining its still-vital purpose of connecting children to both their mother and their father.
The decision that we asked the Supreme Court to review, if allowed to stand, would end this political debate. That court held that States may no longer define marriage as a man-woman union.
While removing the authority over marriage from the people, the 10th Circuit rightly passed over “flawed animus arguments” that wrongly accuse Americans of supporting marriage laws like Oklahoma’s primarily because of irrational bigotry.
In his concurrence, Judge Jerome A. Holmes explained that Oklahoma’s marriage amendment, like all other man-woman marriage laws, “is not plagued by impermissible animus” because it “formalized a definition [of marriage] that every State had employed for almost all of American history, and it did so in a province the States had always dominated.”
Holmes cited agreement with the language of New York’s highest court, which wrote, “The idea that same-sex marriage is even possible is a relatively new one. Until a few decades ago, it was an accepted truth for almost everyone who ever lived, in any society in which marriage existed, that there could be marriages only between participants of different sex. A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted. We do not so conclude.”
You're not irrational, ignorant, or bigoted for thinking that every child should have the opportunity to grow up with a married mom and dad. Or for thinking that states should decide how to define marriage for themselves. In fact, a recent poll shows that the majority of Americans think this (#50, page 21).
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