The Oklahoma Legislature doesn’t convene until Feb. 1, but lawmakers in the Sooner State already appear to have set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills filed in a single session in any state, ever. (Who knows, maybe they’re still pissed about that gay Pride festivus pole.)
At least 26 anti-LGBT bills (and counting) have been introduced in Oklahoma thus far in 2016, which would appear to eclipse the roughly 23 anti-LGBT bills that were filed in Texas last year. Of course, some of that depends on what you consider “anti-LGBT” versus just plain “anti-logic.” For example, one Oklahoma bill would require people to test negative for syphilis and “other communicable or infectious diseases” to obtain marriage licenses. The Human Rights Campaign and Freedom Oklahoma are counting that bill, SB 733, as anti-LGBT.
In a release Tuesday, HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said regardless of whether it’s an all-time record, Oklahoma has the most anti-LGBT bills of any state this year (the Texas Legislature doesn’t meet in 2016).
“These vile attacks are shameful, far reaching, and would no doubt be incredibly destructive to this great state – resulting in multiple, expensive legal challenges and a greatly damaged reputation,” Warbelow said. “Oklahomans across the state must stand up and demand their lawmakers stop these attacks on fairness and equality.”
Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, accused lawmakers of engaging “in the politics of distraction” rather than addressing real problems, including a budget shortfall of more than $1 billion.
“Our community will not sit idly by while an agenda of discrimination is unleashed,” Stevenson said. “We will be present, we will force lawmakers to look us in the eye, and we will not rest until this agenda of hate is stopped once and for all.”
Most of the discriminatory Oklahoma bills have become standard fare by now: proposals to undermine marriage equality, give businesses and other entities a license to discriminate against LGBT people based on religious beliefs, and bar trans people from using public restrooms according to their gender identity.
But there’s also some less common legislation, such as a pro-“reparative therapy” bill, a measure that would allow university student groups to discriminate against LGBT people without losing their funding, and a proposal that would require trans people to disclose whether they’ve had gender reassignment surgery before obtaining marriage licenses.
Just as with syphilis test results, records related to gender reassignment surgery would presumably be public, amounting to a blatant violation of medical privacy laws.
In any case, the Oklahoma bills are among more than 100 anti-LGBT measures that have been filed nationwide in 2016, according to HRC, and we could be on our way to surpassing last year’s record total of 151.
Freedom Oklahoma has more info about the state’s anti-LGBT bills on its website.