The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that U.S. District Judge Terence Kern has ruled today that the marriage discrimination amendment in the blood-red state of Oklahoma is unconstitutional.
Judge Kern stayed his ruling, however, pending the resolution of a nearly identical case in Utah. This means that same-sex marriages won't begin immediately while the legal process works itself out.
From HRC's release:
Two plaintiff couples, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, filed their case, Bishop v. Oklahoma, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in November 2004. Lead counsel in the case are Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City law firm Holladay & Chilton PLLC.
The ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality. In recent weeks both the New Mexico Supreme Court and a federal district judge in Utah have ruled in favor of marriage for lesbian and gay couples.
HRC President Chad Griffin reacted:
"Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him - that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. With last year's historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today's news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states."
With this much momentum and state-level marriage bans continuing to fall, it's only a matter of time before the U.S. Supreme Court will be forced to tackle the fundamental question of whether or not same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.
That day can't come soon enough!
Stay tuned for updates on this developing story.
UPDATE: A copy of Judge Kern's ruling, via the incredible Kathleen Perrin, is after the jump.
Graphic via HRC.