The scoop, as I understand it: Gay marrigae is now legally available in Oklahoma, and as part of that it's actually illegal for Oklahomans to register marriages for any couples and then turn around and refuse it to gay couples that meet other requirements. So state representative David Brumbaugh decided to fix this by getting the government out of the marriage business entirely. Instead, marriage certificates would be issued by local clergy, which would then be recorded with the court, as opposed to the court actually registering couples. Folks who don't have a clergyman they want to register through could file an affidavit with the court for a common-law marriage.
This is just so idiotic, on so many levels, I'm not entirely sure where to begin. For one thing it doesn't really solve anything if people can just apply for common-law marriage. What would be the legal basis for denying an LGBT couple's affidavit here? Or for that matter, what if a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, whatever chose to offer sacramental marriage to LGBT people? Big news: the PCA (one of the largest Presbyterian denominations) just this week changed their definition of marriage to allow for gay couples to be officially married by their clergy. And I guarantee you there's at least one PCA church somewhere in Oklahomas. I'm sure other denominations, Christian or otherwise, either already offer religious marriage to gay parishioners or are well on their way to doing that.
If Oklahoma wants to really and truly get rid of secular marriage, that's... a rather illogical move, IMO, but certainly one within their power. But I really, really doubt that's what this state congressman wants. That would mean no assumed paternity, no tax breaks, no spousal rights when it came to employment benefits or hospital visitation. Instead, what I think they want to do is outsource the registering, but that's equally disastrous IMO. You're either going to have to allow any "church" (including the Reformed Pastafarians or some such group probably made up by clever trolls) to marry whomever they like and give government benefits to them, or else you're going to have to sort groups into government-approved groups that have the right to offer official government benefits to people and those that don't have that privilege. And I don't know how the hell you're going to get around the First Amendment on that one, or even Oklahoma's own sharia law bills that Oklahoma keeps trying to pass. If a church offers someone a marriage certificate based on its understanding of its scripture - a code of law that is certainly not native to the United States - how are the courts supposed to consider that when administering any kind of marriage benefit?
Speaking as a Christian, I'm actually more upset by the other problem. A church couldn't marry who they see fit without offering government protection and recognition, and they couldn't offer government protection and recognition to people their theology would not allow them to recognize as marriable. For instance, about a year ago Pope Francis encouraged Catholic leaders to look at more than just Catholic doctrine on who the church should marry when deciding whether to encourage or oppose secular civil unions. There may be religious obligations to push for protection of the law for all people, the economic and practical benefits and the stability a civil union would provide, even if such families weren't built around partnerships for which the Church recognized as marry-able. I imagine this would apply to remarriages of divorced-but-not-annulled people as well. I saw it down in North Carolina, too, where you'd have clergy fighting against that Amendment One even when their church wouldn't offer gay marriage, even when the clergy didn't think that should change - because they recognized that you could oppose religious marriage and still think gay secular marriage was a good thing, even a religious obligation. It happens more than you'd think once you get to the pastoral level. And this bill would take away peoples' ability to push for justice for gay couples and an infrastructure that allowed them to develop families and live out committed lives, unless they also believed religious marriage should be available to these people.
I personally think religious marriage should be available. That doesn't mean I can't see why having a separate civil union that has nothing to do with a religious sacrament isn't a really, really good idea for all involved. I'm a philosopher. We get hypotheticals.
Just... good grief, honestly.