Oklahoma Definition of Marriage, State Question 711 (2004)

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The Oklahoma Definition of Marriage Amendment, also known as State Question 711, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Oklahoma as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved, but was later overturned by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.[1][2][3]


Federal appeals court ruling

On June 25, 2014, a three member panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down bans on gay marriage in the states of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. This was the first ruling made by a federal appeals court on this issue, which sets a historic precedent that voter-approved bans on same-sex marriage violate the Fourteenth Amendment rights of same-sex couples to equal protection and due process.[4]

While the decision was based off of a case originating in Utah, Oklahoma submitted its own case for review by the Court of Appeals.[5] On July 18, 2014, the court directly struck down the Oklahoma ban in that case.[6]

Stay of decision

Implementation of both decisions affecting Oklahoma were immediately stayed pending anticipated appeals to either the full appeals panel or the United States Supreme Court.[7][6]

United States Supreme Court

On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case, thus allowing the ruling of the Tenth Circuit Court to stand and legalizing same-sex marriage in Oklahoma.[8]

Election results

Oklahoma State Question 711 (2004)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Bishop v Oklahoma 
Yes 1,075,216 75.59%

Election results via: Oklahoma Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot title appeared as:[9]

This measure adds a new section of law to the Constitution. It adds Section 35 to Article 2. It defines marriage to be between one man and one woman. It prohibits giving the benefits of marriage to people who are not married. It provides that same sex marriages in other states are not valid in this state. It makes issuing a marriage license in violation of this section a misdemeanor.


Full text

The full text of the measure can be read here.


Supporters of State Question 711 said the Oklahoma amendment deals with only one topic - marriage - and would withstand constitutional scrutiny in this state.

A SurveyUSA poll of 583 likely voters showed 73 percent of Oklahoma voters supported the amendment while just 29 percent were opposed. The poll was conducted from Oct. 4 to Oct. 6 with a plus-or- minus 3.8 percent margin of error.

Support for the amendment was overwhelming in all demographic groups.

Men were more likely than women to support the measure (77 percent of men compared to 70 percent of women), and those between age 35 and 49 and those over 65 showed the highest level of support (78 percent each) among age brackets.[11]

More than 4,000 people attended a "Pro-Marriage Rally", an event organized by more than 40 Tulsa-area churches.

Nick Garland, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, said in a press release that the purpose of the rally, held at the Union High School Performing Arts Center, was to "celebrate marriage between a man and a woman."[12]


Opponents argued that the proposed amendment would outlaw common-law marriages as well as same-sex marriages and unsuccessfully sought to have the question struck from the ballot on that basis. State questions can only address one issue at a time. However, the Oklahoma Supreme Court did not intervene.[11]

Campaign finance

Supporters of the measure spent $21,644, while opponents spent $11,616.[13]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

Suggest a link

External links