There’s no way else to view the recently proposed anti-gay legislation in Oklahoma than as the last gasp of desperate anachronistic lawmakers who want to force citizens to accept their closed-minded, limited worldview.
That doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t push back in full throttle against the specific archaic legislation, but the march for LGBT equality is only increasing in numbers and strength.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 36 states, including Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to rule in the near future that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Even if it doesn’t, it’s extremely unlikely the court will overturn same-sex marriage in those states that now allow it. Such a ruling would be a logistical and inhumane nightmare that would be widely viewed as a huge human rights violation.
LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered. People who identify within this community of people deserve full equality under the law here in Oklahoma and elsewhere, and that includes the right to marry someone of their own gender and to identify with any gender without discrimination.
The anti-gay legislation filed so far includes the following bills:
County clerks would no longer issue marriage licenses under House Bill 1125, sponsored by Republican Todd Russ of Cordell. Russ says the bill’s intent is to prevent county clerks from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.
State Rep. Sally Kern, an Oklahoma City Republican who is infamous around the world for her hateful remarks about gay people, has introduced three anti-gay measures. House Bill 1599 would prohibit the expenditure of any government money to support same-sex marriage. House Bill 1598 would allow parents to force their gay children to undergo sexual-orientation conversion therapy without any government interference. House Bill 1572 would allow businesses to refuse service to anyone in the LGBT community.
Under Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Joseph Silk of Broken Bow, religious institutions could deny employment or wedding services to anyone if it went against the institution’s particular religious beliefs.
House Bill 1007, sponsored by Republican David Brumbaugh of Broken Arrow, would allow religious organizations the right to refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages.
Sadly, I might have missed more bills trying to limit the rights of the LGBT community here.
Here are short rebuttals to the legislation, which can be found by a bill number search on the Oklahoma State Legislature site:
Kern’s and Russ’s bills are unabashedly unconstitutional, and the state will end up spending thousands upon thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in a losing effort to defend the legislation if it passes. County clerks have to follow the law. Any government money spent on marriage, in particular, would have to include same-sex couples under the law. Same-sex marriage is LEGAL in Oklahoma. Child abuse is against the law, and sexual-orientation conversion therapies are widely regarded as abusive. The state has a fundamental duty to prevent child abuse. A business can’t refuse service to people just because they identify with a certain group or sexual orientation. That takes us back to the Jim Crow era.
All the bills relating to religious organizations are simply superfluous. Churches can already require their members follow specific guidelines for membership unless it’s a clear violation of a federal, state or local criminal law. For example, a minister could refuse to marry a different-gender couple until they went through approved marriage counseling. They could require marrying couples to state certain beliefs or swear certain oaths.
All this legislation is just hateful backlash among angry people against the growing acceptance of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage in this country and, YES, that does include Oklahoma. The bills are either meaningless or will not pass constitutional muster. The religious fundamentalists here are simply kicking and screaming as the state moves forward in the twenty-first century.