The Employee Retirement Income Security Act regulates employee-benefit plans to protect the interests of employees who participate in the plans. To avoid undue governmental intrusion in church affairs, the Act provides an exemption for plans established by churches. Some non-church entities have begun to claim this exemption.
In November 2004, Oklahoma amended its state constitution to limit the state’s recognition of marriage to heterosexual marriage and making it a crime to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. The amendment was supported with religious arguments and appeals to scripture. In response, two lesbian couples sued to invalidate the amendment.
After nearly a decade of litigation, the federal trial court held that Oklahoma’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. The state appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.