The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 22, 2014

Bill calls for 2nd vote on same-sex marriage ban

From The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — A state representative from Edmond has filed a measure calling for a second statewide vote on a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

Republican Rep. Mike Turner reported he filed the House Joint Resolution 1076 in anticipation of the state's current ban on same-sex marriage being struck down by the courts.

It's not apparent how a second effort to ban same-sex couples from marrying would be viewed by the courts. However, University of Oklahoma law professor Joseph Thai told The Associated Press in an email Wednesday that if the current ban is overturned, the chances of the same law being upheld are slim.

"I refer you to the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. It would be legally futile to pass the same law that has already been declared unconstitutional," Thai said.

Turner said he recognizes he can't undo what a court has ordered but said he wanted to have bills on the issue available in case the court or a judge issues a ruling that gives the state an opportunity to change its law or the language in the constitution.

"If there's something we can do during the legislative session, we'll have a (bill) we can use," Turner said.

Turner, who said he opposes the recognition of same-sex marriage and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, has also filed a shell bill, House Bill 2466, dubbed the "Preservation of Marriage Act" that contains no substantial language and can be modified.

U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern overturned Oklahoma's voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages but postponed his ruling pending an appeal.

"The fate of the current ban on same-sex marriage depends on whether the Tenth Circuit and ultimately the Supreme Court, if it decides to hear the case, agree with the federal district court that struck it down, not on how many times the ban is passed," Thai said.

Laura Belmonte, chair of The Equality Network, an organization that lobbies for equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation and other issues, told the newspaper that there are more pressing issues facing the state.

"Many Oklahomans really want our legislators to focus on things like improving education, public safety and economic development, and are growing increasingly tired of the Legislature passing bills that are unconstitutional and really do nothing," Belmonte said.

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AP Source: Tulsa World