FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2016
Contact: Troy Stevenson
Executive Director – Freedom Oklahoma
National backlash looming as 3 discriminatory bills are up for committee vote Tuesday – Feb. 9
Oklahoma City – The Oklahoma legislature is moving quickly on hearing Anti-LGBTQ bills this session. After withdrawing HB 3044 because of “unintended consequences” last Thursday, three separate discriminatory bills will be heard tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9. All of these bills have extremely “intended” negative consequences on the LGBTQ community and further “unintended” negative consequences on people of faith and minority communities.
If any of these bills were to become law, Oklahoma would face an overwhelming backlash from across the nation – similar to what was seen in Indiana and Arizona in recent years – and cost millions in revenue from lost conferences and business prospects. In a time when Oklahoma faces a billion dollar budget shortfall this could be devastating for our struggling economy.
Senate Judiciary Committee
Meets 9:00am room 230
SB1328 by Senator Silk – “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act”
This license to discriminate would allow a legalized system of segregation by empowering business to refuse service to anyone based on bias. It redefines a “deeply held religious belief” as a personal prejudice rather than a fundamental principle of a religious community.
SB898 by Senator Brecheen – Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act
Similar to SB 1328, this bill would allow for discrimination and bias to redefine a “deeply held religious belief” as a personal prejudice rather than a fundamental principle of a religious community, and remove the ability of the state to protect any minority community from said discrimination.
Children, Youth and Family Services Committee
Meets in room 412C at 10:30am
HB2428 by Representative Kern – “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act”
This piece of legislation targets children in state custody and homeless youth from being placed in homes. This attempt to stigmatize adoptive and foster parents who are members of minority communities or members of minority faith communities could result in more children in an overburdened foster care system.
The following statement can be attributed to Freedom Oklahoma executive director, Troy Stevenson:
“Once again, a handful of Oklahoma legislators chose to prioritize bills that harm our state’s economy by propagating bigotry and discrimination, rather than tackling the looming billion dollar budget shortfall that will decimate our schools and infrastructure. They go so far as to try to prevent homeless children from being placed in stable and loving homes because of their personal biases and prejudices. It is a sad day when an elected official would deny children in state custody a home to make them a prop in the politics of distraction.”
Representatives of Freedom Oklahoma will be available to the press before and after each committee hearing.
Freedom Oklahoma is Oklahoma’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization and a proud member of the Equality Federation. Freedom Oklahoma is the unified organization resulting from the merger of The Equality Network, a 501(c)4 organization that lobbies for pro-equality legislation and public policies; and the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization that engaged in public education in support of the LGBT community.