Oklahoma Plaintiffs File Complaint against Gay Marriage Ban

Article excerpt

Four Oklahoma women have filed a new complaint challenging federal and state laws banning gay marriage.

Their latest filing changes some aspects of the case, including which government officials are named as defendants. It also points out that two of the plaintiffs, Susan Barton and Gay Phillips, were married in California last Nov. 1, while the case was on appeal. Barton and Phillips have been together about 25 years. They were married in British Columbia in May 2005 and underwent a civil union in Vermont in August 2001.

Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, the other couple in the lawsuit, have been in a committed relationship for more than 12 years. According to the legal filing, they participated in a commitment ceremony in March 2000.

Addressing the back-and-forth nature of the lengthy litigation and appeals, Baldwin said they did not expect an easy, swift victory when they started their legal battle. But she said she and Bishop feel re-motivated and are ready to push onward with their case.

"We have, on the surface, the same relationship as hundreds of thousands of couples everywhere," Baldwin said. "We have a home, we have a car, we have jobs, we have pets. We have a life together. We have extended family members. We are a couple. We are a married couple in any definition that you want to use, except legal ones. We think it's time the laws in this country caught up with society."

Bishop said that for her, the issue boils down to equal treatment.

"Our government is not treating us the same as it treats other couples, other individuals," she said. "We just want to be recognized the way other people are recognized, instead of being made second-class citizens in our own state and our own nation."

Bishop said she and Baldwin are at least fourth-generation Oklahomans, and want to stay in their home state.

"Our heritage is here," she said. "We don't want to have to move away from that just to have equal rights. It should be the same for people all over the country. …