Last October, LGBT Americans rejoiced in the news that the U.S. Supreme Court would refuse to review the case challenging Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage. At that point, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the state to recognize marriage equality and allow lesbian and gay Oklahomans to wed. We in the LGBT community were all riding high on a year-long wave of marriage equality victories—some happening in surprising places like the redder-than-red Sooner State.
Recently, though, opponents of marriage equality have ratcheted up their hostility, particularly at the level of state government. It’s a disturbing trend, what with all those wins and all that momentum seemingly on our side. We were just beginning to believe that nationwide marriage equality would be unstoppable.
Enter Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern. As you might guess, she’s not our friend. In fact, the Christian conservative lawmaker appears to be on the war path against our community, introducing a number of bills in the state legislature that serve no purpose other than to make life harder for LGBT Oklahomans.
For example, take the so-called “Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act,” a desperate move to try to thwart the legality of same-sex marriage in Oklahoma.
“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 bill reads. “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.”
In other words: “Hey government employees, you like your job? Better not play nice with any gay couples or you’ll be filing for food stamps (ha ha, just kidding—we’re Republicans, we’ll probably cut those, too).”
Kern also authored the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act,” which guarantees people the “freedom” to mentally and emotionally damage their LGBT children by trying to get them “cured.” As you may know, California and New Jersey have banned so-called “conversion therapy” because it’s bullshit. Kern’s bill is a proactive measure to keep Oklahoma from making the same move.
The bill reads in part, “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 years of age without interference by the state.” It’s sad that Kern’s interest in mental health exists solely to harm rather than help others.
Then there’s the “freedom to discriminate” bill that’s been popular in other states as of late in order to address the horror of bakers having to make cakes for same-sex couples’ weddings when said bakers don’t like gays.
While other states have used CYA (cover your ass) terms like “religious freedom” to justify the refusal of service, Kern comes right out with it: “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.”
Could these bills pass? They shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. After all, Republicans dominate Oklahoma and marriage equality, apparently, scares the crap out of them.
Sadly, Kern is not alone in her desperate measures freak-out against same-sex marriage. Todd Russ, another State Rep., wants to do away with marriage licenses in the state altogether, just to spite the gays.
As for Kern, she’s been gunning for us gays since at least 2008 when she said that homosexuality is “the biggest threat that our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat.”
It can’t be fun to be her.