Oklahoma Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond) has proposed a novel idea to sidestep a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban: put an end to marriage altogether.
"[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all," Turner told Oklahoma's News 9.
A federal judge declared that Oklahoma’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. But conservative lawmakers, including state Gov. Mary Fallin, haven’t accepted defeat.
“I think Oklahoma’s opinion hasn’t changed much,” Turner said of the bill he drafted calling for a new ban on same-sex marriage, refuting LGBT advocates' claims that the public is much more supportive of gay marriage now than they were 10 years ago.
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"Would it be realistic for the state of Oklahoma to say, ‘We're not going to do marriage period,'" News 9 reporter Michael Konopasek asked the lawmaker of his resolution.
"That would definitely be a realistic opportunity, and it's something that would be part of the discussion," Turner answered.
Turner was quick to put a “shell bill” on the table, which can be tweaked to respond to any change or appeal of the federal ruling.
Some are calling Turner’s extreme reaction a publicity stunt. Most agree that the debate has become more about politics than public opinion.
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“I think that, especially with issues like this, [these lawmakers are] out of touch with most Oklahomans," said ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel.
"Moving forward I think we'll see less efforts like this," he added.
Turner realizes that most Oklahomans won’t be comfortable with the idea of the state abolishing marriage.
"I accept that," he said.