Recent legal results on same sex marriage in Oklahoma and Nigeria couldn’t have produced any further of a drastic contrast than the regions between themselves pose.
The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria, and perhaps one of the more conservatives of U.S. states, Oklahoma, have both wrestled with the question of same sex marriage and have come to wildly different conclusions. In a contrast connected over a vast ocean, Oklahoma’s ban on same sex marriage has been declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, while Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathon has pushed through a law banning the practice.
The ban that went into effect in Oklahoma nine years ago was struck down after Senior U.S. District Judge Terrence C. Kern found that the arguments against same sex marriage were based on moral views and in no way had any “permissible justification” for its outlawing.
Kern went onto say that almost every argument supporters of the ban brought into court directly conflicted with equal protection under the law as outlined in the U.S. constitution.
Oklahoma finds itself as the second state in less than a month which has had their state ban on same sex marriage revoked, following Utah’s judgment last week. Oklahoma also happens to be in the same federal circuit as Utah and legal analysts say there may be room to merge the two cases together to set a precedent for same sex marriage rulings.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic Ocean in the largest country in Africa, Nigeria, measures pushed through by President Goodluck Jonathon and the Senate at the end of December has made same sex marriage or union a punishable offense. A 14-year prison sentence is the time handed down to those who violate the law.
Other stipulations in the law make running “gay clubs, societies, processions or meetings,” in Nigeria a punishable offense with up to as much as 10 years in prison. The law also states that same sex marriages from outside the country will not be recognized, making them effectively void according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
A recent Ugandan activist film called God Loves Uganda tackles the issue of the continuing “evangelization” of African countries by America’s Christian Right. The filmmaker Roger Ross Williams set out to expose the missionary work in Africa which has been utilized by extremists to push forward an anti-gay agenda with a focus on Uganda, where anti-gay sentiment is on the rise. Roger Ross Williams is the first African American to win an Oscar for producing and directing a film.
Whether it be Oklahoma or Nigeria, the civil rights battle of the 21st century pushes on, with activists on both sides motivated by one passion or another. On the one hand, supporters of same sex marriage say that gay couples should be protected under the law the same way any other minority group is, and that their right to union with a loved one of their choice is being openly violated by same sex marriage bans. On the other, opponents of same sex marriage claim that the sanctity of traditional marriage is under threat, and that their rights to practice their religion are being undermined by the state.
by John Amaruso