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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Oklahoma

Part 7:
2015-JAN: Three anti-gay bills filed in Legislature

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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The acronym "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual community.

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2015-JAN-23: State Rep. Sally Kern (R) filed three anti-gay bills:

Apparently, in reaction to the arrival of marriage equality in Oklahoma, state Rep. Sally Kern (R) filed three bills in an attempt to turn back the clock, to discriminate against the LGBT community, and grant companies that supply goods and services to the general public the religious freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities. The three bills are:

  • House Bill 1597, an anti-human rights bill to define the LGBT community as permanent second-class citizens with restricted rights. The bill states:

    "No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association."

  • House Bill 1598 would guarantee the rights of indivicuals to obtain conversion therapy or reparative therapy counselling even though major therapeutic organizations have found such therapy to be both ineffective and hazardous to the mental health of clients. Further parents would have the right to force their children to obtain such counselling. The bill states:

    "The people of this state have the right to seek and obtain counseling or conversion therapy from a mental health provider in order to control or end any unwanted sexual attraction, and no state agency shall infringe upon that right. Parents may obtain such counseling or therapy for their children under eighteen (18) years of age without interference by the state."

  • House Bill 1599 would prohibit the state from issuing licenses to same-sex couples, and prohibit the state from recognizing marriages by same-sex couples. It would even terminate the salariesy and pension of any civil servant who followed court orders by issuing licenses to such couples. The bill states:

    "No taxpayer funds or governmental salaries shall be paid for any activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage. No employee of this state and no employee of any local governmental entity shall officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state. No taxes or public funds of this state shall be spent enforcing any court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license."

The article from which the above information was taken received 259 comments from readers within five days. Most showed pictures of very cute kittens, discussed states rights, or discussed whether parents own their children.

The Oklahoma Legislature is currently in recess but will reconvene on FEB-02. They may act on these bills after that date. 1

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2015-JAN-25: State Rep. Todd Russ filed one anti-gay bill:

Rep. Todd Russ (R), who is also an Assemblies of God pastor, has filed House Bill 1125. If it becomes law, it would require that only:

"... an ordained or authorized preacher or minister of the Gospel, priest or other ecclesiastical dignitary of any denomination" 2

be allowed to sign marriage certificates."

That would presumably prohibit civil marriages before a judge or other official.

It is unclear whether "any denomination" refers to only to any Christian denomination, or to any fath group affiliated with any religion.

Apparently, he assumes that there are no clergy in Oklahoma willing to sign marriage certificates for same-sex couples, and that without the signature by member of the clergy, a same-sex couple would not be able to marry in the state. It would seem that he has overlooked clergy belonging to the United Church of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, reform Judaism, etc. many of whom would be quite willing to sign marriage certificates.

Rep. Russ refers to Bill 1123 as "conscience legislation" whose purpose is to allow people to exercise their religious values in good conscience. Presumably this means that people would be free to discriminate against anyone or any group on religious grounds. If so, then Rep. Russ appears to not be concerned about fellow Christians violating the Golden Rule. That is one of the "ethics of reciprocity" found in all major religions in the world and many secular belief systems. Luke 6:31 records Jesus as requiring Christians to follow the Golden Rule by saying:

"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."

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2015-JAN-25: Rep. David Brumbaugh (R) also filed an anti-gay bill:

His bill would prevent any religious official from being forced to:

"... solemnize or recognize any marriage that violates the official's conscience or religious beliefs." 2

This would allow a member of the clergy to refuse to marry an inter-racial couple, a same-sex couple, a couple that are judged to be too immature, a couple where one person is a member of another faith group, a follower of another religion, an Agnostic, Atheist, a person unaffiliated with any religious group, etc.

Rep. Brumbaugh appears to be unfamiliar with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which gives all clergy the freedom to deny to marry any couple for any reason. Clergy have refused to marry couples because of their skin color, race, beliefs, etc. for centuries with impunity. To our knowledge, none have ever been charged or convicted because they refused to marry a couple. Still, many religious conservatives fear that the government or courts will order their pastor to marry same-sex couples or lose their tax exempt status. This is a groundless fear but is very widespread and encouraged by many social and religious conservative organizations.

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2015-JAN-25: Oklahomans for Equality president expresses dissapointment at these bills:

Toby Jenkins of Oklahomans for Equality, was dissapointed at some of these bills. He said:

"I was so hoping that our legislators would attend to the duties of our state and big issues like education, health care, dealing with crime and crumbling infrastructure. I hoped they would make that their focus, but once again it sounds like Oklahoma legislators have decided to pick on a portion of our population. ... For 23 years, at least one anti-gay bill has been introduced every session. I was so hoping 2015 would be different." 2

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Some comments by the public about these bills:

Readers to the article in NewsOK posted 468 comments within a week. Most dealt with constitutional law but a few referred specifically to the anti-gay bills:

  • Bruce McIntosh posted: "What a dweeb... is this ALL he thinks about??? Is this what he thinks will make Oklahoma a better state??? He is a total waste of air. AND our tax dollars."

  • Coy Nichols posted: "All of these Republicans at the state level are wasting our time and money. All they do is sit and think of ways to stop or stall things instead of thinking of ways to improve and move forward."

  • Dave Osborn posted: "Nope. They are not wasting time and money. They are fighting for the things that the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans want for their state. That's exactly what I expect them to do."

  • Timothy Hites posted: "Speaking of licenses, does Todd Russ have his Lunatic Certification or is he just freelancing?"

  • Glenn Goldschlager posted: "The Oklahoma state legislature has a lot of very important things to do during this session. What people do in their own personal lives isn't one of them . With over 3000 bills filed this year , I have to wonder , what happened to the party of smaller less intrusive government? ... 99 % of everyone in Oklahoma could vote to take the rights of just 1% away and it still wouldn't make it right . That is why we have a constitution to protect the minority from the power of the majority. People need to keep in mind that we are all members of one minority group or another and if the majority can take anyone's rights away, than we are all in jeopardy of losing our rights as well." 2

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Hermant Methe, "Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern Files Three of Most Bigoted Anti-Gay Bills You’ll Ever See," Patheos, 2015-JAN-23, at:
  2. Rick Green, "Oklahoma bill would put an end to marriage licenses," The Oklahoman, 2015-JAN-21, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Oklahoma > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2015-JAN-28
Latest update: 2015-JAN-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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