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Oklahoma House Votes To End Marriage Licenses To Avoid Issuing Them To Gay Couples

Russ.Todd

The state of Oklahoma would no longer issue marriage licenses under legislation approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. 

The bill, which is designed so that the state doesn't have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, passed the House 67-24. 

The Tulsa World reports: 

House Bill 1125, by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell (above), would instead require those officiating marriage ceremonies to file "certificates of marriage" after the fact. Alternately, couples could file affidavits of common law marriage.

Russ said his bill is in response to county clerks who do not want to marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"This takes them out of the trap," he said.

Troy Stevenson, executive director of the LGBT group Freedom Oklahoma, issued the following statement

"This legislation puts ALL couples - who plan to marry in Oklahoma – at risk of being denied hundreds of federal legal rights and protections, if it were to become law. The federal government and other states will not be required to acknowledge these proposed ‘marriage certificates.’ This legislation will only result in mass confusion from clerk’s offices to courtrooms around the nation - while putting Oklahoma families at risk. In the past six months, the freedom to marry has been the law of the land in Oklahoma, and not a single marriage has been at risk - until now, and it is our elected officials who are creating the danger.”

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit that brought marriage equality to Oklahoma had a slightly different take

"The animus behind House Bill 1125 is a far greater concern than the content of the bill itself. Practically speaking, lawmakers are saying they so desperately want not to recognize same-sex marriages that they are willing to alter the entire marriage licensing process in Oklahoma just to give themselves an out. They're not making marriage harder for same-sex couples alone; this affects all marriage applicants. That said, if Oklahoma lawmakers wish us to jump through a different set of hurdles to marry than the present hurdles just so they can sleep better at night having done their part to fight off the inevitable growing tide of acceptance of same-sex marriage, we gay and lesbian couples, now equal under the law, will oblige.

Read the full text of HB 1125, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

HB1125 HFLR


Anti-Gay OK Senator Says He'll Always Protect Your Right To Be Homosexual (And Be Discriminated Against)

Silk

Oklahoma state Sen. Joseph Silk doesn't believe LGBT people "have a right to be served in every single store." 

However, Silk now says he'll always protect their right to be homosexual, even though he still believes the LGBT movement is "a threat to our freedoms and liberties in the United States and Oklahoma."

Silk, the author of the "Oklahoma Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015," sparked outrage this week when he told The New York Times

“The L.G.B.T. movement is the main thing, the primary thing that’s going to be challenging religious liberties and the freedom to live out religious convictions. And I say that sensitively, because I have homosexual friends. ... 

“They don’t have a right to be served in every single store. People need to have the ability to refuse service if its violates their religious convictions.”

After Silk's comments went viral, he responded with a post on his website, in which he says the bill actually "has nothing to do with" LGBT people, even though they are making themselves out to be "the only target." 

"People have a right to be homosexual and I will always protect that," Silk writes. "However that right does not give them an excuse to trample another person's right to live out thier (sic) religious beliefs in their place of business."

Silk goes on to say that the LGBT movement has "zero tolerance" for other people's rights and is "a threat to our freedoms and liberties in the United States and Oklahoma." 

"I am not questioning the rights of the LGBT movement, I believe they have the right to live how they want to live," Silk writes. "They on the other hand, are launching a massive campaign that is attempting to strip other peoples (sic) individual liberties away if they hold different beliefs...this is complete intolerance.

"Yes I did say that homosexuals do not have the right to be served in every store, just as I do not believe that I nor my family have the right to be served in every private business," he writes. "The right to provide services should be the decision of the business owners. We need to keep our country free and stop this radical, intolerant, movement."  

Based on his statements, it's safe to assume Silk doesn't want any LGBT customers (or even their allies) at the business he manages, which is called Beavers Bend Getaways and consists of luxury vacation properties in the Broken Bow Lake area of Oklahoma. The Facebook page for Beavers Bend Getaways, owned by Silk's father, is here


Oklahoma Lawmakers Advance Anti-Gay Bills Aimed At Stopping Same-Sex Marriage

In an uproar over federal court rulings striking down bans on same-sex marriage, Oklahoma lawmakers in the state's House Judiciary Committee voted to release two pieces of legislation that would make it virtually impossible for same-sex couples in the Sooner State to get married. The two bills would have the state discontinue issuing all marriage licenses and also forbid all local and state employees from complying with any federal court's order in favor of same-sex marriage. Tulsa World reports:

KernOne of the bills’ authors, Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said forcing states to acknowledge marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution. Kern quoted the Declaration of Independence’s reference to “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and said marriages of other than one man and one woman violate both.

Her bill, House Bill 1599, would require the immediate dismissal and forfeiture of pension of any state or local government employee who recognizes, grants or enforces a “same-sex marriage license.”

The “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act,” as HB 1599 is styled, also bars the use of public funds for “enforcing any court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license,” and orders the immediate removal from office of any judge who violates the provisions of the bill.

It also orders state courts to “immediately dismiss” any challenge to the law and assess costs against the plaintiffs.

Finally, it says the act shall remain in effect despite “any contrary federal court ruling.”

The bill passed 5-3 along party lines, with one Republican member, Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa, not voting.

The second bill, HB 1125, would redefine how the state recognizes marriages and who would be allowed to officially recognize them:

Oklahoma-printable-flagIt would do away with marriage licenses, and instead depend on those conducting marriages to submit marriage certificates. Alternately, couples could file affidavits of common-law marriage.

The new language allows judges to perform marriages, as well as clergy or “ecclesiastical dignitaries.”

Russ said he proposed the bill to protect court clerks and other government employees who did not want to be involved in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson suggested that these anti-gay bills are a distraction from real woes facing Oklahoma:

"In the same week that we find out that the State of Oklahoma is facing a budget deficit of over $600 million, our lawmakers are wasting time - and taxpayer money - pushing a vindictive agenda against LGBT Oklahomans. The battle for the freedom to marry was long and hard-fought, but it is over, it is decided, and it is high time we addressed the real crisis facing our state. Legislators on both sides of this issue acknowledged at the committee hearing, that these pieces of legislation do not pass constitutional muster. And will trigger costly litigation that Oklahoma cannot afford and will lose. This is a futile effort to hurt Oklahomans and it is time we called this what it is - a mean-spirited distraction from the real problems facing our state."

Looks like Mike Huckabee isn't the only one who doesn't understand the concept of judicial supremacy. Maybe Huckabee and Oklahoma lawmakers should listen to this constitutional law professor explain how it works.


OK Rep. Sally Kern Pulls 'License to Discriminate' Bill, Keeps Other Two Bills Targeting Gay

Kern

Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern, who on more than one occasion has compared gays to terrorists, has withdrawn her bill that would have allowed Oklahoma businesses to refuse service to any LGBT individual or organization, AKOR reports:

“After further consideration, I have decided to withdraw House Bill 1597, known as ‘The Business Protection Act.’ The bill as introduced did not accomplish my desired purpose. Across the country, business owners are being sued by individuals who are asking the owner to perform a service or provide a product that is contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs. When these business owners have refused because of conscience, they were then sued having to face legal battles that resulted in their losing their business and even facing jail. I wanted a tort bill that limited damages between the business owner and the customer ensuring that the business owner would not lose their livelihood.

“I will support the efforts of my colleagues who have introduced bills that do what I intended. I will work with the governor, the speaker of the House and Senate pro tempore to protect the business interests of our state so that all our citizens who take the risk of opening a business can prosper and thrive.”

Kern is continuing to sponsor the "Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act" which would bar the use of taxpayer dollars or government salaries for "the licensing or support of same-sex marriage," as well as the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act” which gives parents the right to seek help to "cure" their gay kids.


OK Gov. Mary Fallin Won't Say if She Thinks Businesses Have Right to Deny Service to Gays

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin won't say if she believes businesses should be allowed to refuse service to gays, according to the AP:

FallinDuring a presentation to reporters and editors at The Associated Press’ annual legislative forum, Fallin said she has many gay friends, but declined to answer a question about whether she thought it was inappropriate for businesses to discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation.

“In general, I have lots of gay friends that I do talk to and hang out with, and I think we should respect them. They’re good Oklahomans,” Fallin said.

The comments come after a week during which Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern, who has compared gays to terrorists, filed three offensive anti-gay bills for the legislature to consider.

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

Despite the fact that Fallin says she has "lots of gay friends," she has been no friend to gays in her official capacity as governor.

In September of 2013, after an order came down from the Pentagon directing the National Guard to process military benefits for same-sex couples, Fallin ordered the Oklahoma National Guard to stop.

When a federal judge struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban in January of last year, Fallin said she was "troubled" and then blasted the U.S. Supreme Court when it let the 10th Circuit ruling upholding the decision stand.

So when Fallin says she thinks gay Oklahomans should be respected, it's probably a bunch of B.S..


Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern Insists She 'Doesn't Hate Anyone' Despite Trio Of New Anti-Gay Laws

Screenshot 2015-01-28 11.59.53

According to Republican Member of Oklahoma’s House of Representatives Sally Kern, she “doesn’t hate anybody.” Her claims are somewhat difficult to accept at face value, however, in light of the three discriminatory pieces of legislation that she pushed through the House last week. In addition to enabling discrimination against LGBT people based on religious grounds, Kern's bills enable the practice of reparative therapies and would literally defund gay marriages.

Under Kern’s proposed Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act “no employee of [Oklahoma] 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 bill goes on to demand that Oklahoma’s state funds be withheld in the event that a court order were to mandate the issuance or recognition of same sex marriage licenses.

“The LGBT people want to limit someone’s freedom to come to understand something, because their mantra is ‘well you’re born gay and you can’t change’ and there’s no credible scientific research to prove that,” Kern said in an interview with local NBC affiliate KFOR. “If they want to live that way, let them, but see that’s not enough for them, right now. What they want is to force their lifestyle upon the rest of us,” she insisted.

All three bills are scheduled to be heard next week after the opening of the Oklahoma legislature.


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