Gay-marriage advocates say the state’s highest court on Monday issued a landmark ruling that opens the way for gay couples to legally marry in Oklahoma.
The ruling came as the Supreme Court considered whether the state should extend the legal protections of its ban on gay marriage to same-sex couples, which was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.
It also allows same-day, same-parent adoption and allows children to participate in preschools and kindergartens.
The decision, written by a three-judge panel of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, comes as the state has seen a dramatic increase in requests for marriage licenses in the past month, with people seeking marriage licenses from a wide range of legal services.
The ruling is a victory for gay-rights advocates, but it comes with a warning: It will likely take time for a statewide marriage license to be issued, even though the law already allows for a quick and free process.
It’s unclear whether the Supreme Chief Justice, a Republican appointed by President George W. Bush, will take the case.
If he does, the case will be argued in the next term, when the current term expires.
In an opinion published by the Oklahoman, Justice Jimmie Williams Jr. said the court is taking into account the “potential for confusion” if Oklahoma doesn’t issue licenses as soon as the next session begins in January.
But the ruling did not provide any clarity about how long it would take for the state to issue marriage licenses, or how much that delay could cost the state.
It was not immediately clear whether the court would have the authority to make such an order.
The legal challenges in Oklahoma have come from the conservative Oklahomans for Marriage Equality and the state Attorney General’s office, which are representing gay-married couples.
The attorney general’s office argued in court papers that issuing licenses would be difficult because of the high cost of the licenses and because some same-gender couples have filed for divorce because of their inability to obtain marriage licenses.
The gay-lawsuit-obsessed court also wrote that the legal costs to the state are likely to be “substantial.”
The attorney General’s Office, which is challenging the state marriage ban, said the cost of issuing licenses is about $300,000 a year.
The state could also incur additional costs by not having licenses available.
The state, which began issuing marriage licenses last year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.