Oklahoma bill to end state licensing of marriage passes in state house

Oklahoma bill to end state licensing of marriage passes in state house

Sparked by controversy over same-sex marriages, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would abolish government-issued Oklahoma marriage licenses. …

Under House Bill 1125, marriage licenses would be replaced by marriage certificates issued by clergy and others authorized to perform marriage ceremonies. The bill passed the House 67-24 and will now go to the Senate for consideration. …

“As I read your bill, as long as the clergy has signed off on it, the state will have essentially signed off on it,” said House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Oklahoma City. “You are potentially opening up Pandora’s Box.” …

[Republican Representative Todd] Russ said the bill is designed to protect employees of county court clerks’ offices who have been “caught in the middle of a fight between the federal and state government” over the legality of same-sex marriages. …

His bill would leave it up to clergy and other individuals who are authorized to perform marriages to determine whether legal requirements have been met to issue marriage certificates. The role of court clerks would be reduced to filing the marriage certificates or affidavits of common law marriage. …

The executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, which advocates in behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, criticized House passage of the measure.

“This legislation puts all couples who plan to marry in Oklahoma at risk of being denied hundreds of federal legal rights and protections, if it were to become law,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma. “The federal government and other states will not be required to acknowledge these proposed ‘marriage certificates.’”

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