Woodward, Okla. — "The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma's voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge's ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government," the statement said.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt said the Supreme Court had left it to the states to define marriage and that Kern's ruling was "troubling." He said it would likely take another Supreme Court decision to resolve the matter.
Not including Utah and Oklahoma, 27 states still have constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage. Four more — Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming — do not permit it through state laws.
There are currently 43 same-sex lawsuits in courts, with 27 of those in federal court, said Camilla Taylor, marriage project director at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization. Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage is the third to be struck down by a federal judge, after California and Utah. State courts also ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in New Mexico in December and New Jersey in October.
Taylor said momentum has been increasing as litigators see that gay-rights groups are winning same-sex marriage cases. She said a new same-sex marriage lawsuit is brought almost every week.
For 17 days, Utah was the 18th state to allow gay couples to wed, after a federal judge there overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban. Hundreds of couples got married before the Supreme Court put a halt to the weddings earlier this month by granting the state a stay on a federal judge's ruling that two other courts previously denied.
The fate of gay marriage in Utah now rests in the hands of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver — the same circuit as Oklahoma.