- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Gay marriage already has been legal in all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties, but supporters say the latest ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court expands the rights of married gay couples, especially when traveling to neighboring states.

In a 5-4 ruling on Friday, the nation’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, including the 14 states that have been enforcing bans.

GAY COUPLES IN OKLAHOMA: Gay marriage has been legal in Oklahoma since Oct. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with a gay couple who had been denied a marriage license by the Tulsa County Court Clerk. But Tulsa attorney Mike Redman, who specializes in employment and civil rights law, said until Friday’s ruling gay couples married in Oklahoma would essentially lose that right if they were married in neighboring states with bans in place, such as Texas, Missouri and Arkansas. “If I am married and I cross the Red River (border with Texas) I stopped being married, until today,” Redman said.

DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GAYS: While gay couples have the right to marry, Redman said there are no laws in Oklahoma that protect gay people from discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations. For example, a baker who did not want to make a cake for a gay wedding would be under no obligation to do so, Redman said. “It is still perfectly legal to discriminate against a person because they are gay, lesbian or transgender,” Redman said.

ANTI-GAY LEGISLATION: There were numerous bills introduced in the Republican-controlled Legislature this year that gay rights supporters said unfairly targeted the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, although none of those measures made it to the governor’s desk. Some bills were introduced to give statutory authority to businesses and corporations to discriminate against gay people, while others would ensure court clerks wouldn’t have to issue licenses to gay couples. Another would have allowed for so-called conversion therapy to help gay children end “unwanted sexual attraction.”

BATTLES AHEAD: State Rep. Sally Kern, a fierce opponent of gay marriage who said in 2008 that homosexuality was a greater threat to the country than terrorism, said she fully expects Oklahoma and other states to “push back” against the decision with legislation similar to efforts since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion. “When the Supreme Court came out with Roe vs. Wade, did that settle the issue about abortion? No, it did not,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “And ever since that decision, states have done as much as they legally could, and are continuing to this very day, to push back against that unjust decision. You will see the same thing happen regarding same-sex marriage. This decision today does not end the discussion. It just reinvigorates it.”

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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