|Updated: 10/19/2012 9:19 am
||Published: 10/18/2012 8:34 pm
The Second United States Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an 83-year-old woman who stood up for her rights as a lesbian.
The court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which has denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples. The court concluded that America's gay population has "suffered a history of discrimination" similar to that faced by women in years past.
On Thursday, FOX23 spoke with three of the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit in 2004 challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Oklahoma's DOMA amendment. While they're very happy about Thursday's ruling, they're frustrated their case is still languishing in the courts.
Sue Barton is celebrating Thursday's ruling in New York.
“It proves once again that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. It is a discriminatory amendment that prevents all of us from being treated equally,” Barton said.
Barton, who along with her partner and another couple, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, have yet to hear a decision about their case.
“Our case attacks DOMA on broader levels. We deal with not only the federal recognition, but also states recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states, and also states being compelled to allow same sex marriages,” Baldwin said.
The plaintiffs in the Oklahoma lawsuit don't know why they're still waiting for a decision.
“We have no indication one way or the other why he's still sitting on the case,” Barton told FOX23.
While they wait, State Representative Mike Ritze says decisions like this concern him because judges are ruling from the bench on social matters.
“Judicial activism is something we are all worried about, because the judges are overstepping their bounds and making law laws instead of ruling about laws.”
Representative Ritze says no matter what happens in federal court, he's confident Oklahoma’s DOMA will stay on the books.
“They can do whatever they want at the federal level, in the appellate level, but as far as a state, we're very firm on the Defense of Marriage Act,” Ritze said.
Bishop begs to differ.
“You can argue states rights, but we’re talking about individual rights here. These are our rights and our lives.”
The plaintiffs in Oklahoma say their attorney usually files a notice to alert the federal judge in Tulsa whenever a ruling on DOMA comes down in other parts of the country. They are expecting that to happen again with this ruling.
This ruling will most likely be appealed. The United States Supreme Court has indicated they will take up the issue next session.