LGBT rights in Oklahoma

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LGBT rights in Oklahoma
Map of USA OK.svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal statewide since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Gender identity/expression State alters sex on birth certificates for transgender people
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
Legal since October 6, 2014 (marriage)
Adoption Legal since 2014

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Oklahoma enjoy most rights available to non-LGBT residents, with the exception of employment and housing non-discrimination protections. Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Oklahoma. Both same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples have been legal since October 2014. The state does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving an estimated 62,000 LGBT workers in Oklahoma vulnerable to employment discrimination.[1]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Oklahoma since 2003, when the United States Supreme Court struck down all state sodomy laws with its ruling in Lawrence et al. v. Texas.[2][3]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]


In April 2004, the Oklahoma Senate, by a vote of 38 to 7, and the Oklahoma House, by a vote of 92 to 4, approved of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. On November 2, 2004, Oklahoma voters approved Oklahoma Question 711, a constitutional amendment which bans same-sex marriage and any "legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups".[4][5][6] On January 14, 2014, Judge Terence C. Kern, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, declared Question 711 unconstitutional. The case, Bishop v. United States (formerly Bishop v. Oklahoma), was stayed pending appeal.[7] A 3-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in Bishop on April 17, 2014, and upheld the district court's decision on July 18.[8] On October 6, 2014 the United States Supreme Court turned down Oklahoma's appeal which reinstates a lower courts ruling that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Following the courts rejection of the appeal the Oklahoma County Court Clerk's Office and others across the state started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.[9]

Adoption and parenting[edit]

Oklahoma permits adoption by an unmarried adult without regard to sexual orientation.[10]

In August 2007, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Finstuen v. Crutcher ordered Oklahoma to issue a revised birth certificate showing both adoptive parents to a child born in Oklahoma who had been adopted by a same-sex couple married elsewhere.[11]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Oklahoma counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

Oklahoma law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[12]

The city of Norman[13] has a nondiscrimination policies that prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation and gender identity, while the cities of Oklahoma City[14] and Tulsa[15] have nondiscrimination policies that prohibit discrimination in employment for sexual orientation only.

Hate crime laws[edit]

State law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[16]

National Guard[edit]

Proposed legislation to institute in the Oklahoma National Guard a local version of "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT), the federal policy that formerly prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military, was proposed in January 2012 and withdrawn in February.[17][18]

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States V. Windsor [19] in June 2013 invalidating Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. Department of Defense issued directives requiring state units of the National Guard to enroll the same-sex spouses of guard members in federal benefit programs. Guard officials in Oklahoma enrolled some same-sex couples until September 5, 2013, when Governor Fallin ordered an end to the practice.[20] Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on October 31 said he would insist on compliance.[21] On November 6, Fallin announced that members of the Oklahoma National Guard could apply for benefits for same-sex partners at federally owned ONG facilities, where most staffers are federal employees, and at federal military installations.[22] When DoD officials objected to that plan, Fallin ordered that all married couples, opposite-sex or same-sex, would be required to have benefits requests processed at those facilities.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rodriguez, Laura; Gatlin, Donald. "Approximately 62,000 LGBT Workers in Oklahoma Lack Statewide Protections against Ongoing Employment Discrimination". The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Oklahoma Sodomy Law". Human Rights Campaign. June 26, 2003. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ Legal Citation 539 U.S. 558 (2003) Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "Oklahoma Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law". March 16, 2007. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ CNN: Ballot Measures, accessed May 15, 2011
  6. ^ "US judge strikes down Oklahoma gay marriage ban as 'arbitrary, irrational' (+video)". 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  7. ^ Federal lawsuit renewed against Oklahoma's constitutional ban of same-sex marriage Accessed 11 December 2010
  8. ^ Associated Press (August 8, 2014). "Oklahoma same-sex marriages ruled constitutional for second time". The Guardian. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ Lowry, Lacie (October 6, 2014). "Same-Sex Marriages Legal, Underway In Oklahoma". Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  10. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Oklahoma Adoption Law Archived July 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., accessed May 15, 2011
  11. ^ Finstuen v. Crutcher (10th Cir. 2007), accessed July 11, 2011
  12. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Oklahoma Non-Discrimination Law Archived July 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., accessed May 15, 2011
  13. ^ "Municipal Equality Index" (PDF). Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  14. ^ Kimball, Michael (November 16, 2011). "Oklahoma City Council passes sexual orientation measure". The Oklahoman. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  15. ^ Bryan, Emory (June 18, 2010). "Tulsa City Council Approves Sexual Orientation Policy; Rejects Immigration Ordinance". News on 6. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Oklahoma Hate Crimes Law". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Bill Would Reintroduce DADT to Oklahoma Guard". January 10, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  18. ^ "DADT Bill Apparently Shelved in Oklahoma House". February 21, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ legal citation as 570 U.S.___ (2013)
  20. ^ "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin tells National Guard to deny same-sex benefits". New York Daily News. September 18, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  21. ^ Johnson, Chris (October 31, 2013). "Hagel to direct nat'l guards to offer same-sex benefits". Washington Blade. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  22. ^ Allen, Silas (November 7, 2013). "Oklahoma National Guard will process same-sex spouse benefits at a few federal facilities". NewsOK. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  23. ^ Mills, Russell (November 20, 2013). "Fallin: OK will no longer process benefits for National Guard couples". KRMG. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 

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