When Oklahoma state lawmakers convene on February 1 for the 2016 legislative session, lawmakers in the Sooner State will set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills ever filed in a single session in any state.
According to HRC and Freedom Oklahoma, the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, at least 26 bills attacking LGBT Oklahomans and their families are already in the docket for consideration – the most of any state in the nation.
The two LGBT groups are sounding the alarm on a barrage of “egregious anti-LGBT bills being pushed in the Oklahoma state legislature by anti-equality activists.”
“Oklahoma is regrettably leading the nation in the number of bills attacking LGBT people, their families, and visitors in the 2016 legislative session,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “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. Oklahomans across the state must stand up and demand their lawmakers stop these attacks on fairness and equality.”
“For the second year in a row, a handful of Oklahoma legislators have decided to engage in the politics of distraction rather than attempting to address the real problems of our state, such as a budget shortfall set to exceed a billion dollars,” said Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson. “Our community will not sit idly by while an agenda of discrimination is unleashed. 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.”
In a press released on Tuesday, HRC explains: “These far reaching measures range from a proposed Joint House Resolution that would put the right to discriminate on the ballot; an extremely dangerous pro-“conversion therapy” bill; numerous pieces of legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict transgender people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even a bill explicitly allowing student groups to exclude some students – including those who are LGBT – without losing university recognition or funds for doing so. One outrageous bill – Senate Bill 733 – even goes so far as to invade the privacy of all Oklahomans seeking marriage licenses by requiring them to be tested for communicable and infectious diseases – and unconscionably denying them a license if the test proves positive.”
Senate Bill 733 would make STI test results part of the public record, likely violating patients’ right to privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
“The attacks on fairness and equality in Oklahoma are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in 2016 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking over 100 anti-LGBT bills in 26 states,” HRC adds.