Oklahoma Definition of Marriage, State Question 711 (2004)

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State Question No. 711 appeared 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]


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.[3]

While the decision was based off of a case originating in Utah, Oklahoma submitted its own case for review by the Court of Appeals.[4] On July 18, 2014, the court directly struck down the Oklahoma ban in that case.[5]

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.[6][5]

Election results

Oklahoma Question No. 711 (2004)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Bishop v Oklahoma 
Yes 1,075,216 75.59%

Election results via: The Oklahoma State Elections Board

Ballot summary

"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."

Additionally, it is the only such amendment that establishes criminal penalties for issuing a marriage licence in violation of its provisions.[7]


Supporters of State Question 711 have said the Oklahoma amendment deals with only one topic - marriage - and will 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.[8]

More than 4,000 people attended a "Pro-Marriage Rally" on Tuesday, 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."[9]


Opponents have 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..[8]

Financing the campaign

Supporters of the measure spent $21,644, while opponents spent $11,616.[10]

Similar measures

The following are measures that banned or attempted to ban same-sex marriages. Note that a number of them have been overturned.

See also

External links