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Oklahoma House members walk out over gay marriage vote

Weighing in on the recently energized debate around gay marriage, the Oklahoma House approved a resolution without opposition Monday to reaffirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman and support the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The resolution, which passed 84-0, now heads to the Senate. Democratic House minority leader Scott Inman and the chamber's lone openly gay member joined about a dozen other representatives who walked out of the chamber instead of voting.

The bill wouldn't have the force of law if it also passes in the Senate, but the resolution's authors said it was meant to send a message to President Barack Obama and the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently heard arguments on two cases related to same-sex marriage rights.

Obama declined to defend DOMA in one case, saying he believes it to be unconstitutional. The other case concerns California's Proposition 8 that bans gay marriage, and the high court's decision could potentially affect Oklahoma, where 76 percent of voters added a similar ban to the state's constitution in 2004.

A decision on both is expected this summer, but remarks from some of the justices seemed to signal they agreed with Obama. Several U.S. senators, including two Republicans, have recently voiced their support for gay marriage.

Rep. Kay Floyd of Oklahoma City, who is openly gay, walked out of the chamber when the vote was called, as did more than a dozen other Democrats. Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, and 13 other Democrats voted for the resolution.

In a brief interview after the vote, Floyd downplayed the role of her sexual orientation in her decision to walk out.

"When you do that, you give it credence, you give it some sort of credibility," Floyd told The Associated Press, referring to a vote on the bill. "So my statement was going to be that no, I'm not going to be a co-author. I'm not going to have anything to do with it."

Copyright The Associated Press

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