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County clerk asks 10th Circuit to uphold Okla. marriage amendment

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys file opening brief on appeal
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DENVER — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Tulsa County clerk filed their opening brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit Monday in defense of Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment affirming marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A federal district judge struck down the voter-approved amendment in January, though his decision is on hold until all appeals have been exhausted.

“Marriage expresses the reality that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life, especially for children who deserve both a mom and a dad,” said Senior Counsel Byron Babione. “That is why 76 percent of Oklahoma voters approved a constitutional amendment to affirm marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The 10th Circuit should affirm the right of Oklahomans to define marriage consistent with this public policy, which is motivated by their concern over what’s best for children and society.”

“The district court ruling sidestepped the real reasons for Oklahoma’s definition of marriage,” explained Legal Counsel Jim Campbell. “Rather than upholding the marriage amendment, the court endorsed the recently conceived notion that marriage is about special government recognition for adult relationships. The court should not have substituted that view of marriage for the one that Oklahoma families affirmed at the ballot box.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith. Two same-sex couples sued Smith in 2009 after she declined to issue them marriage licenses because of the state’s marriage laws.

According to the brief filed with the 10th Circuit Monday in the case, Bishop v. Smith, “Marriage has always existed to join in committed unions men and women in sexual relationships to increase the likelihood that they will stay together and raise the children they beget. Some, however, seek to redefine marriage from a gendered to a genderless institution…. Discontented with the People’s decision in the States that have affirmed marriage as a gendered institution, Plaintiffs and many other genderless-marriage advocates have filed lawsuits. They argue that the public discussion about the meaning, purpose, and future of marriage was and is meaningless…. Plaintiffs are mistaken. The Constitution has not removed this question from the People.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Babione (BABB’-ee-own)


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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Jim Campbell
Jim Campbell
Chief Legal Counsel
Jim Campbell serves as chief legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he leads the U.S. Legal Advocacy team.