Eleven years after Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage was thrown out and declared unconstitutional by a federal court, the Sooner State may have found an alternative approach to tackle the issue.
The Oklahoma state House last week passed a bill that will bar atheists from getting married. If the bill eventually becomes law, all who want to get hitched in Oklahoma will be required to have faith in God, and their marriage licenses will be carefully vetted by a member of the clergy.
On face value, the proposed bill is an attack on atheism, but those with knowledge believe it's Oklahoma's way of curbing gay matrimonies. Since most mainstream religions don't have a positive view on homosexuality, aspiring same-sex couples could find it hard to convince the clergy that their belief in God hasn't been compromised due to their sexual orientation.
If the plan to shoot down gay marriages with matrimonial bans on atheists seemed farfetched, the bill's sponsor Rep. Todd Russ confirmed the critics' hunch. In an interview with KSWO-TV, Russ said that homosexual marriages were "stuck down our throats" by the Supreme Court when it forced the state to lift a ban that its citizens had asked for.
Oklahoma first declared same-sex marriages illegal in 2004 with the overwhelming support of its state House, Senate, and later, voters. But in 2014, a District Court found the ban – and not gay marriage – to be in direct violation of the United States Constitution. Oklahoma's Supreme Court appeal was also dismissed, following which the state had no choice but to come up with a Plan B.