Plaintiffs are lesbian couples who filed suit on November 3, 2004 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, against the United States and the State of Oklahoma, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Article 2 § 35 of the Oklahoma Constitution (the "Oklahoma Amendment," which bans same-sex marriage being issued in Oklahoma and acknowledging same-sex marriages issued in other states) violate the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs allege that DOMA and the Oklahoma Amendment violate the Due Process, Equal Protection, Full Faith and Credit, and Privileges and Immunities Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
In August 2006, the Court denied a motion to dismiss filed by the Oklahoma Attorney General and Oklahoma Governor, rejecting their sovereign immunity argument. The state officials appealed and the Court stayed the proceedings pending appeal.
On June 5, 2009, the Tenth Circuit issued an unpublished decision reversing the Court's failure to dismiss the claims against the Oklahoma officials and remanding the case for entry of an order dismissing the claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Tenth Circuit's reversal was based on Plaintiffs' lack of standing to pursue their claims against the named state officials. On November 24, 2009, the Court dismissed Oklahoma from the case.
The remaining defendants, the United States and the Tulsa County Clerk, filed a motion to dismiss on October 13, 2009. On February 25, 2011, prior to the Court's issuing a decision on the pending motions to dismiss, the United States notified the Court that it would cease defending the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA, thereby abandoning other portions of its previously filed motion to dismiss. On July 21, 2011, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives filed a motion to intervene "as a defendant for the limited purpose of defending Section 3."
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), (PB-NY-0017
in this Clearinghouse), which held that Section 3 of DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, 133 S. Ct. 2652 (2013), (PB-CA-0029
in this Clearinghouse), which held that the official proponents of Proposition 8 lacked standing.
On January 14, 2014, the Court granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the Oklahoma ban on same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Court entered an order permanently enjoining enforcement of the ban against same-sex couples seeking a marriage license. But, it wrote "in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court's issuance of a stay in a nearly identical case on appeal from the District Court
of Utah to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, see Herbert v. Kitchen (Jan. 6, 2014), the Court stays execution of this injunction pending the final disposition of any appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals." The Court held that it lacked jurisdiction over the Section 3 of DOMA.
On January 16, 2014, the Tulsa County Clerk appealed the Court's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, and on January 24, 2014, the plaintiffs appealed the Court's decision as to DOMA. The appeals court issued its decision on the first of these appeals on July 18, 2014, affirming the District Court's decision that same-sex marriage violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights. The main opinion was by Judge Carlos Lucero; Judge Jerome Holmes joined, and Judge Paul Kelly dissented. The Court stayed its decision pending resolution of a petition for review in the Supreme Court. Bishop v. Smith, 2014 WL 3537847 (N.D. Oklahoma 2014). On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari. Smith v. Bishop, 135 S. Ct. 271, 190 L. Ed. 2d 139 (2014).
On October 6, 2014, the Court issued an order lifting the stay on its original mandate and permanently enjoined the Defendant from enforcing the Oklahoma Amendment to deny any same-sex couples marriage licenses based solely on their status as a same-sex couple.
The case continues only as to litigation for attorney's fees for the appeal.Darren Miller - 11/27/2012
Carlos Torres - 05/13/2013
Claire Lally - 03/16/2015