FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 14, 2014
Laura Belmonte, President of the Board of Directors
Troy Stevenson, incoming Executive Director
Court Strikes Down Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban
The Equality Network Hires New Jersey Marriage Advocate as Executive Director
(Stillwater, Oklahoma) Today, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The ruling is a monumental step toward full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Oklahomans.
Because Judge Kern issued a preemptive stay, same-sex couples in Oklahoma will not be able to marry during the expected appeals process. Kern’s ruling echoes the legal rationale used by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby in striking down a similar Utah law last month.
“This is a joyous day for all Americans who believe in fairness and equality for all. The Windsor case has opened the floodgates that will soon wash away the discriminatory laws that bar same-sex couples from the rights and benefits to which they are entitled as U.S. citizens. We congratulate the plaintiffs and their legal counsel for their amazing courage and persistence in making this day a reality in Oklahoma.” said Laura Belmonte, president of The Equality Network (TEN) board of directors.
Today’s ruling coincides with the announcement that Troy Stevenson has been hired as TEN’s first Executive Director. Stevenson has been working as Executive Director for Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s state LGBT equality organization, and led the campaign that culminated in marriage equality there last fall. A native Oklahoman and graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Stevenson is an attorney who brings more than a decade of public policy and political experience back home to the Sooner State.
“I am overjoyed to be coming home at such a critical time for LGBT Oklahomans. Victory is in within our grasp and I look forward to working with TEN and our many partners at the national level and across the state in building an Oklahoma where everyone is equal.” Stevenson said.
Stevenson will assume his duties on February 1, 2014.
Troy Stevenson, TEN’s new Executive Director
The Equality Network works to achieve equality and secure legal protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Oklahomans through advocacy, coalition building, and individual empowerment in the political process.