Oklahoma Hub

OK Rep. Sally Kern Targets Gays With 3 of the Most Offensive Bills Filed in 2015: VIDEO


Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern, who on more than one occasion has compared gays to terrorists, has filed three offensive bills targeting gays in the state.

The "Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act" would bar the use of taxpayer dollars or government salaries for "the licensing or support of same-sex marriage. Under the law, no local or state employee could "officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit."

Tulsa World reports:

“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,” the measure says. “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.”

A second bill, the heinously titled “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act” gives parents the right to seek help to "cure" their gay kids.

Says the bill:

“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,” the bill says. “Parents may obtain such counseling or therapy for their children under eighteen (18) years of age without interference by the state.”

A third bill, House Bill 1597, would allow any Oklahoma business to refuse service to an LGBT person, or group, similar to the bill that failed last year in Arizona because businesses would not have it..

Kern is currently unavailable for comment, according to Tulsa World, because she's celebrating a wedding anniversary this week.

Watch News9 Oklahoma's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "OK Rep. Sally Kern Targets Gays With 3 of the Most Offensive Bills Filed in 2015: VIDEO" »

Anti-Gay Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants To End All Marriage Licenses, Says SCOTUS Stuck Gay Marriage 'Down Our Throat'


Complaining that the U.S. Supreme Court "stuck [same-sex marriage] down our throats," a Republican Oklahoma lawmaker has introduced a bill that would do away with all marriage licenses in the state.  

Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell (above), says his HB 1125 is designed to protect the religious freedom of state employees who object to same-sex marriage. The bill would prohibit judges from performing marriages and clerks from issuing marriage licenses. 

Instead, religious officials would sign marriage "certificates" that would be recorded with county clerks. In lieu of religious ceremonies, couples could also file affidavits of common-law marriage. Any state employee who violates the law would face up to a year in jail. 

From The Oklahoman

“Marriages are not supposed to be a government thing anyway,” [Russ] said Wednesday.

Russ, a credentialed Assemblies of God minister, is upset with rulings that have supported same-sex marriage.

“There’s a lot of constituents and people across the state who are not through pushing back on the federal government for the slam down they’ve given us with Supreme Court rulings,” he said. ... 

“Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage, and yet the Supreme Court stuck it down our throats,” Russ said.

Oklahomans for Equality posted a statement saying Russ' bill would "create chaos": 

"Oklahomans for Equality calls upon all fair minded Oklahomans to contact your state representative and ask them not to support House Bill 1125 which would strip county court clerks of their duty of issuing marriage licenses. Rep. Todd Russ of District 55 has introduced the bill under the guise of protecting elected officials religious freedoms. If passed, this bill will de-fund court clerks already strained budgets, do away with the marriage license process which conforms to every other state, and create chaos in a system that has worked for more than century."

Oklahomans for Equality reported last week that more than 3,200 marriage licenses have been issued to gay couples since same-sex marriage became legal in October. That was after the Supreme Court declined to review the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision striking down Oklahoma's marriage ban. 

Full text of Russ' bill, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants To End All Marriage Licenses, Says SCOTUS Stuck Gay Marriage 'Down Our Throat'" »

States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees


Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  

Former 'Ex-Gay' Leader John Smid Marries His Same-Sex Partner In Oklahoma


File this under, "Signs we've almost won."

John Smid (above right), the longtime leader of one of the most prominent "ex-gay" therapy programs in the US, has married his same-sex partner — in Oklahoma, no less. 

Smid served as director of Love In Action and spent 11 years on the board of Exodus International. Three years ago, Smid publicly renounced "ex-gay" therapy and came out as gay.

Smid said he and his partner, Larry McQueen (above left), obtained their marriage license in Hugo, Oklahoma — a 35-minute drive from their home in Paris, Texas — before holding a ceremony in Tulsa on Sunday.

"I believe that due to my former notoriety, my marriage will definitely have its impact," Smid told Towleroad on Monday. "I believe it is encouraging for other former ex-gays, and maybe even those who are still trying to hold on to their ex-gay belief system. We think our relationship reveals something very normal, not strange or deceptive gay stereotypes. We have come to realize that our marriage is very much the same as your average heterosexual marriage."

Smid has apologized extensively for his role at Love In Action — penning a book and reaching out to survivors of the program individually. He has pointed out that the leaders of "ex-gay" therapy programs are often victims, too.

Asked whether there are still those in the LGBT community who don't think he deserves to be happily married, Smid said, "No actually, I think that's been worked out, but you never know, there may be some."

Smid has been married twice before — both times to women. He had two children in the 1970s before living as openly gay for several years in the 1980s.

After marrying again and spending two decades in the "ex-gay" movement, Smid said he began to drift away from it in 2005, when Zach Stark, a teenager in Love In Action’s residential treatment program, posted cries for help on MySpace.

The posts fueled protests outside Love in Action, as well as stories in the national media. One of the protesters was Morgan Fox, a filmmaker who eventually directed a documentary about the experience called, “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.” Smid agreed to be interviewed by Fox, and they became friends.

After leaving Love in Action, Smid launched his own ministry, Grace Rivers, which now focuses on the gay community. He divorced his second wife in 2011 and moved to Texas to live with McQueen last year.

"I realized this week that my relationship with Larry is a mirror I see in every day," Smid wrote in announcing their marriage on Facebook. "For most of my life, the mirror I saw reflected my mistakes, shortcomings and failures. The reflection I see today with Larry shows me the positive things in my life, my strengths, gifts and talents. I see how I can succeed at a mutual intimate and loving relationship. For this, I am truly grateful.

"At this time our federal government recognizes our legal marriage, our home state of Texas does not," Smid wrote. "However, we hope that Texas will soon accept our marriage as legitimate and legal." 

Openly Gay Congressional Candidate Al McAffrey Loses Bid In Oklahoma

6a00d8341c730253ef0163016d87ac970d-800wiOklahoma's first openly gay state senator has lost his bid for congress in the Sooner State's fifth district. With 97.4 % of precincts reporting, McAffrey's Republican challenger has him beat by a margin of 60.3% to 36.2%. News OK reports:

Republican Steve Russell, a U.S. Army veteran and author, captured the congressional seat Tuesday that includes most of Oklahoma County, Russell, 51, defeated state Sen. Al McAffrey, an Oklahoma City Democrat, and three Independents and will replace U.S. Rep. James Lankford in the U.S. House. Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, ran for the U.S. Senate and won the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.

Russell will be the third different congressman since 2007 in the district that includes most of Oklahoma County and Pottawatomie and Seminole Counties.

He’s the first, at least in recent history, that didn’t actually live in the district when he was elected. Russell lives in south Oklahoma City, just outside the boundary of the district he was elected to represent. The U.S. Constitution only requires that members of the House live in the state that they represent. Russell’s home has been on the market for several months.

Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriage in Seven New States: VIDEO


Responding to the Supreme Court's marriage decision last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will begin recognizing same-sex marriages taking place in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Idaho - with additional states likely to follow.

Said Holder:

“I am pleased to announce that the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages now taking place in the affected states, and I have directed lawyers here at the Department of Justice to work with our colleagues at agencies across the Administration to ensure that all applicable federal benefits are extended to those couples as soon as possible.  We will not delay in fulfilling our responsibility to afford every eligible couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, the full rights and responsibilities to which they are entitled.

He continued:

The steady progress toward LGBT equality we’ve seen – and celebrated – is important and historic.  But there remain too many places in this country where men and women cannot visit their partners in the hospital, or be recognized as the rightful parents of their own adopted children; where people can be discriminated against just because they are gay.  Challenges to marriage restrictions are still being actively litigated in courts across the country.  And while federal appeals courts have so far been unanimous in finding that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, if a disagreement does arise, the Supreme Court may address the question head-on.  If that happens, the Justice Department is prepared to file a brief consistent with its past support for marriage equality. 

Watch Holder's full remarks HERE.

In addition to the seven states above, marriage equality has also come to West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arizona (announced earlier today).

Gay marriage began in Alaska but has since been put on hold while the state appeals a pro-equality ruling to the Supreme Court (expect marriages to resume later today)

A federal court ruling in the challenge to Wyoming's gay marriage ban is expected Monday, with Governor Matt Mead saying the state will respect whatever decision is made.


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