As the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviews an Oklahoma lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex unions, a new statewide television ad sponsored by national advocacy group Freedom to Marry airs Monday in the state.
The weeklong commercial features retired Army colonel and Purple Heart recipient Ed Cuyler and his wife Robbie advocating on behalf of their lesbian daughter Deedra, who married her partner Amber in Massachusetts in 2011. The couple and their three children live on Cuyler’s ranch near Fort Sill.
“Here in Oklahoma we value family,” Cuyler begins, as the ad shows the family walking around the ranch with their children, a scene set to appeal to the red state’s rural values. “When Deedra told me she was gay, as her dad, I was worried, because I wanted to protect her.”
“As a veteran, I know freedom means freedom for everyone,” Cuyler says in the ad, which is also backed by the Equality Network’s statewide public education campaign Freedom Oklahoma. “And no family should be denied a basic freedom.”
Under Oklahoma’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning the recognition of same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, Deedra is unable to add Amber to her health insurance policy despite having worked at the Lawton Goodyear tire factory for almost 24 years.
"We're a normal family," Deedra explained in an interview with The Oklahoman on Sunday. “We work, we try to take care of our children.”
“I know some people are afraid -- you are afraid of what you don’t know," Deedra added.
In January, Senior U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled that Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, describing the statute as "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit." A three-judge panel on the 10th Circuit is expected to decide on the case, and a similar one from Utah, in the next few weeks.