OKLAHOMA CITY — Marriage exists for its procreative potential, not just as recognition of a loving relationship between two people, and the U.S. Supreme Court agrees, lawyers for an Oklahoma clerk said in a new court filing.
The 63-page brief filed Tuesday is the latest volley in a battle between a lesbian couple of 17 years and Tulsa County Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who refused to grant them a marriage license in 2009.
Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin subsequently sued to be allowed to marry in their home state, where voters had approved a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled in Bishop and Baldwin’s favor in January this year, and Smith appealed.
Lawyers for Smith argued that marriage is about furthering “potentially procreative sexual relationships into stable unions” rather than recognizing the love and commitment of two people.
“They (plaintiffs) reduce marriage from an institution that exists to benefit children and society, and relegate it to a mere stamp through which the government approves loving, emotional unions between adult couples,” they said in the brief filed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
They further argued that the Supreme Court has found repeatedly that marriage is fundamental to the survival of the human race. In one of the cases cited, Loving v. Virginia in 1967, the court ruled that the prohibition of interracial marriage was unconstitutional.
Bishop and Baldwin said in a statement Tuesday that lawyers for Smith are reducing marriage to nothing.
“They say it is only one thing, when it clearly is not,” the two said in the statement. “Marriage is many things to many people, and we believe that it is a right that should (be) granted to all citizens and not a bastion of individual states to discriminate against people within their borders.”
Lawyers for the couple argued in a brief last month that the marriage ban demeans same-sex couples and their children because it sends the message that their relationships are secondary to those built in traditional families.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for later this month in the Denver appeals court. The same panel will hear a similar appeal out of Utah on April 10.
Tuesday’s brief was the second filed by the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Smith.
Follow this case: Bishop v. Oklahoma.
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