Posts Tagged As: Oklahoma
July 7th, 2016
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading a coalition of thirteen states in a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction against directives from the Justice Department and the Education Department which warn that Title IX funding may be withheld from school districts and colleges that discriminate against transgender students. The particular point of contention among conservatives is whether schools can be compelled to make restrooms and changing rooms available to transgender students according to their gender identity:
The coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, has already filed suit against the Obama administration to seek a permanent block of the directive. Wednesday’s request, if approved, would affect not just these states but public schools across the country.
The states filed the case in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. Harrold Independent School District, just northwest of Wichita Falls, is the official plaintiff on behalf of Texas, but most of the attention in the Lone Star State has fallen on the Fort Worth Independent School District.
There, the superintendent incurred the wrath of Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and other Republican leaders for setting local rules that would allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
Last week, Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion that the new guidelines for transgender students violate state law by relegating “parents to a subordinate status” in being informed about their children. He also said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner illegally enforced the rules without the school board’s input.
Scribner countered that the school district’s guidelines for transgender students had been approved by the district five years ago, long before the current controversy.
The thirteen states joining the lawsuit are: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
May 25th, 2016
With a 10-10 tie vote, an Oklahoma House Committee last night failed to move SB-1619, a bill requiring school districts to provide separate bathrooms for students who object to sharing bathrooms with transgender students. With a tie vote, the bill stays in the committee. It should be noted that the committee was recessed, and not adjourned, after the tie vote. The bill remains in committee, and could be heard again at any time during the legislative session, which ends at 5:00 p.m. on May 27. And with Oklahoma being Oklahoma, just about anything is still possible as long as the Legislature is still in session.
Last night’s quickly-called hearing by the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget came as a surprise to LGBT activists. Earlier that day, Freedom Oklahoma sent out a press release saying “Leadership in the State House of Representatives informed Freedom Oklahoma today that SB 1619 – a bill targeting transgender youth with segregated bathrooms – will not move forward this session. … Freedom Oklahoma will stay vigilant in making sure there are no more 11th hour attempts to harm LGBTQ Oklahomans and it is our hope that the grown ups are back in control under the dome at 23rd and Lincoln.”
Vigilance was warranted. No sooner had that statement gone out when Freedom Oklahoma sent out this tweet:
— Freedom Oklahoma (@FreedomOklahoma) May 24, 2016
Details are scant, but it appears that SB-1619 was added to the agenda at the last minute as an emergency item. The committee, chaired by Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) was in a marathon session moving bills to the House floor when suddenly Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Yukon) brought up SB 1619 for consideration:
Rep. Inman expresses concern that this bill has been pulled off of tomorrow's agenda to be heard today.
— JRLegislativeReport (@JRLROK) May 24, 2016
Rep. Inman expresses concern that this bill has been pulled off of tomorrow's agenda to be heard today.
— JRLegislativeReport (@JRLROK) May 24, 2016
Sears: I'm waiving the rule bc this is the last day we can get something out of JCAB and on to the floor.
— JRLegislativeReport (@JRLROK) May 24, 2016
#SB1619 – Dems pushing for one day delay on debate, saying bill is out of order. Repubs say leaders can violate 24hr rule at end of session
— Bill Schammert (@BillSchammert) May 24, 2016
Note a delay of even a day might prevent it being able to get through both chambers. Ex. Budget bill passed today & should be heard Friday.
— JRLegislativeReport (@JRLROK) May 24, 2016
According to tweets from JRLegislativeReport, Fisher pushed hard for the bill’s passage, citing the Obama Administrations recent guidance on Title IX funding stating that issues of transgender discrimination fall under the Title’s gender equality provisions. After what appears to have been a contentious back-and-forth, Sears called for a recess:
"We're taking a recess, whether you like it or not because I'm chairman. We're taking a 23 minute recess." – Rep. Sears, back at 6pm #SB1619
— Bill Schammert (@BillSchammert) May 24, 2016
It’s unclear what happened during that recess, but about an hour after the committee resumed its work, it deadlocked, with Sears join the “nays.” Vice Chair Dennis Casey (R-Morrison) and Reps. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Harold Wright (R-Weatherford) also joined the committee’s Democrats to block the measure. The Associated Press reported, “In a letter to lawmakers Monday, the presidents of both the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber warned of ‘severe economic damage’ that could result from the measure.”
Rep Fisher, who is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, made waves last year when he proposed a bill targeting Advanced Placement U.S. History courses in Oklahoma. “There seems to be a very clear leaning in the new framework to communicate that America is just not a good place. We’re exploiters. We’re abusers. We put down the poor. The rich rule. All those kinds of things,” said Fisher. But after it was pointed out that not just anybody can create an college Advanced Placement course and expect universities to accept them for course credit, the bill failed to make it to the House floor.
March 10th, 2015
Governments love control. That’s a given.
So while many people – right, left, or center – have exclaimed, “the government get out of the marriage business, anyway!”, I’ve mostly ignored those cries as impractical. But by a vote of 67 to 24, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has voted to do just that.
HB 1125 removes all references to issuing marriage licenses and instead allows a provision by which the officiant of a marriage files a certificate after the fact informing the state that a legal marriage has occurred (and those who don’t wish for an officiant can file a common-law marriage affidavit). In this way, such county clerks or other public employees as don’t wish to issue licenses that offend their faith won’t have to issue any licenses at all.
Currently the marriage certificate is the final step in the process. And that would remain the same. Except that the certificate, once recorded and certified, is returned to the couple as their legal proof of marriage.
It’s not completely clear why receiving and documenting the certificate is less offensive to a clerk than issuing a license, but perhaps it’s a matter of filing the record of an event rather than issuing a license which is a form of permission.
Or, though unlikely, perhaps this whole fight has caused the Republicans in Oklahoma to ponder on some of the supposed small-government positions that they like to spout and ask themselves why it is that a couple should have to ask the state for permission to marry in the first place.
Interestingly, the law omits any ‘male-female’ requirements and the certificate has signature spaces for “first spouse” and “second spouse”. It does continue restrictions on under-age marriage.
The bill now goes to the state Senate and, if passed, would go into effect November 1, 2015.
UPDATED: This bill appears to have been sent off to a committee to die in March.
October 6th, 2014
The Marion County Clerk’s Office and other counties have begun issuing marriage licenses for same-sex marriages.
…”Defending Indiana’s statute at trial and on appeal was our duty as attorney for our state government and was necessary,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “Our legal system is based on the bedrock principle that both sides in a dispute will be zealously represented by counsel who will advocate for their clients so that the courts can weigh the arguments and decide. Our constitutional process for testing the validity of statutes worked as intended, and Indiana’s legal defense has been conducted with civility and respect for all sides and within existing resources.”
— Ginnie Graham (@GinnieGraham) October 6, 2014
Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin — the Tulsa County couple that filed a federal challenge to Oklahoma’s ban a day after it was approved by voters in 2004 — were among the first couples to get a license. In Oklahoma County, the first couple to get a license was Lauren Marie Tidwell and Sara Michelle Yarbrough.
Which, of course, has political leaders upset:
Tulsa County Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who defended Oklahoma’s marriage ban after denying a license to Bishop and Baldwin, was represented by the Arizona-based legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
Byron Babione, senior counsel for the group, said, “The court’s decision not to take up this issue now means that the marriage battle will continue. Several federal courts — including those in the 5th, 6th, 8th, and 11th circuits — still have cases working their way to the Supreme Court. (Alliance Defending Freedom) will continue to remain a leader in the critical effort for the freedom of the people. The people should decide this issue, not the courts.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt also criticized the court’s inaction.
“The will of the people has now been overridden by unelected federal justices, accountable to no one,” Fallin said. “That is both undemocratic and a violation of states’ rights. Rather than allowing states to make their own policies that reflect the values and views of their residents, federal judges have inserted themselves into a state issue to pursue their own agendas.”
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said marriage licenses would be immediately issued to same-sex couples.
“Not to issue one would be a violation of the 10th Circuit’s mandate and a violation of these couples’ constitutional rights,” Gill told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We’ve given the go-ahead to begin issuing [marriage] licenses right away.”
Gov. Gary Herbert said at a news conference that he sent a letter to his cabinet members ordering them to recognize all legally performed marriages, that gay couples can follow the same process as everyone else to get benefits.
“We are a nation of laws and we here in Utah, we’ll uphold the law,” Herbert said.
Thirty-year-old Lindsey Oliver and 42-year-old Nicole Pries received the first same-sex marriage license issued from the Richmond Circuit Court Clerk’s office shortly after 1 p.m. Monday.
Upon leaving the courthouse, they were married by gay-rights advocate The Rev. Robin Gorsline.
The couple said Monday also was the anniversary of a commitment ceremony they held on a North Carolina beach three years ago.
Speaking to reporters after a campaign event at a farm here, GOP Gov. Scott Walker said the state was abandoning its fight to keep its same-sex marriage ban. … Asked if the U.S. Constitution should be amended to ban same-sex marriage, Walker downplayed the notion, saying, “I think it’s resolved.”
“For us, it’s over in Wisconsin,” Walker said of the fight over gay marriage. “Others will have to talk about the federal level.”
October 6th, 2014
With today’s Supreme Court non-decision, about 53% of all Americans now live in jurisdictions with marriage equality. That’s twenty-four states and the District of Columbia. Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah will open their clerk offices to same-sex couples as soon as the various Federal District Courts go through their formalities. Those formalities are already out of the way in Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah. Things are happening so fast I wouldn’t be surprised if Indiana gets the go-ahead before I finish writing this post. Meanwhile, you can expect that Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming will follow suit any day now, since they too are now bound by the decisions already handed down in the in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit Courts of Appeals.
The biggest wild card remains the Sixth Circuit, which heard oral arguments last August in a Michigan challenge to that state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That court also heard oral arguments from four other states — Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — challenging those states’ bans on recognizing legal marriages from out of state. If the Sixth Circuit goes all contrarian and upholds any of those bans, then we could expect the issue to be dropped once again at the Supreme Court’s footsteps.
And to think that barely over a decade ago, our relationships were still criminalized in fourteen states.
Now, it’s possible that the three-judge panel in Cincinnati may rule against marriage equality. It’s also conceivable that a three-judge panel in the Fifth, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits could uphold a same-sex marriage ban in, say, Louisiana, for example.
But if one did, it seems much more likely that the entire circuit would step in for an en banc decision. But even if that didn’t happen, then sure, maybe an anti-equality decision could conceivably make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But by then, some two-thirds or more of all Americans are likely to be living in marriage equality states. Would the Supreme Court go back and overturn all of that? That now seems preposterous. Today’s non-decision is the new law of the land.
January 20th, 2014
Today the Oklahoma United Methodists for Equality ran the following ad in the Tulsa World:
January 15th, 2014
As we have seen over and over, when it comes to marriage cases, who has standing may play an important role in the outcome. In the Oklahoma decision handed down yesterday, the case may have also hinged to some extent on who could defend the state’s constitutional amendment.
The case started nine years ago and has gone through a number of procedural hurdles since that time. The first of which may have been unexpectedly important.
In 2004, two lesbian couples filed a complaint against the Oklahoma Governor and the Oklahoma Attorney General seeking that the Federal DOMA law and the Oklahoma Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment be overturned.
The Governor and the Attorney General argued that as the issuer of marriage licenses was the County Clerk and that in Oklahoma the clerks are part of the Judiciary branch of government, the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue them. The court disagreed, but in 2009 the Tenth Circuit bought that argument and the Governor and Attorney General were dismissed.
Along with the state’s legal department.
However, the court allowed the plaintiffs to amend their case to name as defendants the Attorney General of the United States (for the federal DOMA side of the case) and the Tulsa County Court Clerk and the State of Oklahoma. The court then dismissed the State of Oklahoma as a defendant leaving only Eric Holder (for the US) and Sally Howe Smith, the clerk.
In 2011, Holder informed the court that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Federal DOMA case, and the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group stepped in. And, if this case is in any way similar to comparable cases, BLAG’s defense was likely nominal.
As the Hollingsworth and Windsor cases were advancing to the Supreme Court, the judge held the case in limbo until SCOTUS was heard. Upon announcement, the BLAG defense filed to have the Federal side of the case found moot and for their participation to be dismissed.
Which left the only counsel defending the amendment those who are described in the ruling as
Smith is represented by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and attorneys with an organization known as the “Alliance Defending Freedom.”
So it appears that the county, having found themselves way over their heads in defending the state and federal constitution, calling in the specialists, ADF. And it is true that when it comes to gay issues, the ADF has a truly impressive record. Astonishing, really.
Well, that is, if you look at things from my perspective. The Alliance Defending Freedom (nee Alliance Defense Fund) are losers on a colossal scale. Over and over. State after state. Case after case.
And yet they are trotted out with their tired old disproven defeated arguments to be the best defenders of “tradition” and “children”. For which I am thankful.
January 14th, 2014
Gov. Mary Fallin reacted to today’s court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage:
“In 2004, the people of Oklahoma voted to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as ‘the union of one man and one woman.’ That amendment passed with 75 percent support.
“The people of Oklahoma have spoken on this issue. I support the right of Oklahoma’s voters to govern themselves on this and other policy matters. I am disappointed in the judge’s ruling and troubled that the will of the people has once again been ignored by the federal government.”
Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt also weighed in:
“It is a troubling decision,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “As the Supreme Court recently noted in the Windsor case, it is up to the states to decide how to define marriage, not the federal government. There is a case involving the State of Utah currently pending before the 10th Circuit that is identical to the case in Tulsa. The issue most likely will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court and the outcome will dictate whether Oklahoma’s constitutional provision will be upheld.”
January 14th, 2014
Senior U.S. Federal District Judge Terence C. Kern has struck down the amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, saying that the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. But unlike in Utah, Oklahoma’s same-sex couples won’t be rushing to marry anytime soon, as Judge Kern has stayed his ruling pending an appeal.
Oklahoma constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was passed by referendum in 2004 when 75% of Oklahomans approved State Question 711 (SQ 711). The amendment states: “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. Neither this Constitution nor any other provision of law shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.” It also bars the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The court challenge to the amendment was filed soon after voters approved it. Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop sought the right to marry, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton, who were legally married in California, sought their marriage’s recognition. They sued the U.S. Attorney General seeking to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act entirely (including section 3, which allows states to refuse to recognize marriages performed in other states), and they sued the Tulsa County Court Clerk, Sally Howe Smith, for refusing to issue a licence to Baldwin and Bishop. The Phoenix-based anti-gay group Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) provided lawyers for Smith, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Advisory Group, under the direction of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) intervened on behalf of the U.S. government.
Judge Kern declined to rule on the question of whether Oklahoma was required to recognize marriages from out of state on jurisdictional grounds.
Judge Kern’s reliance on the Windsor case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, was limited to two principles (PDF: 207KB/68 pages):
This Court has gleaned and will apply two principles from Windsor. First, a state law defining marriage is not an “unusual deviation” from the state/federal balance, such that its mere existence provides “strong evidence” of improper purpose. A state definition must be approached differently, and with more caution, than the Supreme Court approached DOMA. Second, courts reviewing marriage regulations, by either the state or federal government, must be wary of whether “defending” traditional marriage is a guise for impermissible discrimination against same-sex couples. These two principles are not contradictory, but they happen to help different sides of the same-sex marriage debate.
Judge Kern then set out to identify the Equal Protection principles that apply to the case, starting with whether Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage discriminates against an identifiable class of people.
The Court defines the relevant class as same-sex couples desiring an Oklahoma marriage license. The Bishop couple has easily satisfied the first element – requiring a showing that Part A intentionally discriminates against this class – for two reasons. First, Part A’s disparate impact upon same-sex couples desiring to marry is stark. Its effect is to prevent every same-sex couple in Oklahoma from receiving a marriage license, and no other couple. This is not a case where the law has a small or incidental effect on the defined class; it is a total exclusion of only one group. …
Second, both the timing of SQ 711 in relation to certain court rulings and the statements in the public domain before passage of SQ 711 raise the inference that it was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of excluding the class from marriage. SQ 711 originated from legislation entitled the Marriage Protection Amendment, which passed the Oklahoma Legislature as part of House Bill 2259 (“HB 2259”)
Judge Kern then reviewed the history of SQ 711, including public statements by Oklahoma legislators, and determined that:
Exclusion of the defined class was not a hidden or ulterior motive; it was consistently communicated to Oklahoma citizens as a justification for SQ 711. This is simply not a case where exclusion of same-sex couples was a mere “unintended consequence” of the law. Instead, this is a classic, class-based equal protection case in which a line was purposefully drawn between two groups of Oklahoma citizens – same-sex couples desiring an Oklahoma marriage license and opposite-sex couples desiring an Oklahoma marriage license
As for whether the marriage ban serves a rational purpose, the court turned to the arguments used to promote the ban during the 2004 campaign. First, there was the “promoting morality” argument, which Judge Kern dispensed with rather quickly:
The Court recognizes that moral disapproval often stems from deeply held religious convictions… However, moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification for a law… Preclusion of “moral disapproval” as a permissible basis for laws aimed at homosexual conduct or homosexuals represents a victory for same-sex marriage advocates, and it forces states to demonstrate that their laws rationally further goals other than promotion of one moral view of marriage. Therefore, although Part A rationally promotes the State’s interest in upholding one particular moral definition of marriage, this is not a permissible justification.
Judge Kern then addressed other justifications provided by the State of Oklahoma for the marriage ban: “(1) encouraging responsible procreation and child-rearing; (2) steering naturally procreative relationships into stable unions; (3) promoting ‘the ideal that children be raised by both a mother and a father in a stable family unit;’ and (4) avoiding a redefinition of marriage that would ‘necessarily change the institution and could have serious unintended consequences.'” Kern dealt with those arguments’ pretty directly, and they are a joy to read.
Let’s take them one at a time. Point 1, that banning marriage equality somehow encourages “responsible procreation and child-rearing”:
First, the wealth of scholarly articles in this section of Smith’s brief, which range from William Blackstone to John Locke, simply demonstrate that state-recognized marriages developed in part as a means of encouraging and incentivizing procreation within marriage. … These articles do not provide what is necessary in an equal protection case – that is, a link between the legal classification now being drawn by Part A against same-sex couples and a historical state objective of encouraging procreation to occur within marriage. Traditional exclusion of the disadvantaged group from state-sanctioned marriage does not itself evidence a rational link to the identified goal of promoting responsible procreation within marriage…
During oral arguments in Hollingsworth, Justice Scalia asked Mr. Theodore Olson, counsel for the proponents of Proposition 8, when it became unconstitutional “to exclude homosexual couples from marriage.” …Mr. Olson responded with the rhetorical question of when did it become unconstitutional “to prohibit interracial marriage” or “assign children to separate schools.” As demonstrated by Mr. Olson’s response, the mere fact that an exclusion has occurred in the past (without constitutional problem) does not mean that such exclusion is constitutional when challenged at a particular moment in history. This Court has an obligation to consider whether an exclusion, although historical, violates the constitutional rights of Oklahoma citizens.
…Second, there is no rational link between excluding same-sex couples from marriage and the goals of encouraging “responsible procreation” among the “naturally procreative” and/or steering the “naturally procreative” toward marriage. Civil marriage in Oklahoma does not have any procreative prerequisites. Permitting same-sex couples to receive a marriage license does not harm, erode, or somehow water-down the “procreative” origins of the marriage institution, any more than marriages of couples who cannot “naturally procreate” or do not ever wish to “naturally procreate.” …
…Same-sex couples are being subjected to a “naturally procreative” requirement to which no other Oklahoma citizens are subjected, including the infertile, the elderly, and those who simply do not wish to ever procreate. Rationality review has a limit, and this well exceeds it.
Points 2 and 3 are considered together, that banning marriage equality somehow promotes “steering naturally procreative relationships into stable unions” and encourages “the ideal that children be raised by both a mother and a father in a stable family unit”:
Again, however, the question remains whether exclusion of same-sex couples promotes this interest, or is simply a guise for singling out same-sex couples for different treatment due to “moral disapproval” of a same-sex household with children. Smith has not articulated, and the Court cannot discern, a single way that excluding same-sex couples from marriage will “promote” this “ideal” child-rearing environment. Exclusion from marriage does not make it more likely that a same-sex couple desiring children, or already raising children together, will change course and marry an opposite-sex partner (thereby providing the “ideal” child-rearing environment). …
In addition, Smith has not explained, and the Court cannot discern from any of Smith’s cited materials, how exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage makes it more likely that opposite-sex marriages will stay in tact (thereby remaining “optimal” child-rearing environments). Excluding same-sex couples from marriage has done little to keep Oklahoma families together thus far, as Oklahoma consistently has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.
As for Point 4, the so-called “unintended consequences” to the institution of marriage. Judge Kern quoted from a document supplied by the Witherspoon Institute which supposedly laid out the case that same-sex marriage would harm marriage itself and found:
The “negative impact” argument is impermissibly tied to moral disapproval of same-sex couples as a class of Oklahoma citizens. All of these perceived “threats” are to one view of the marriage institution – a view that is bound up in procreation, one morally “ideal” parenting model, and sexual fidelity. However, civil marriage in Oklahoma is not an institution with “moral” requirements for any other group of citizens… Smith does not ask a couple if they intend to be faithful to one another, if they intend to procreate, or if they would someday consider divorce, thereby potentially leaving their child to be raised in a single-parent home. With respect to marriage licenses, the State has already opened the courthouse doors to opposite-sex couples without any moral, procreative, parenting, or fidelity requirements. Exclusion of just one class of citizens from receiving a marriage license based upon the perceived “threat” they pose to the marital institution is, at bottom, an arbitrary exclusion based upon the majority’s disapproval of the defined class. It is also insulting to same-sex couples, who are human beings capable of forming loving, committed, enduring relationships. “‘Preserving the traditional institution of marriage,'” which is the gist of Smith’s final asserted justification, “is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.”
After reviewing those four points, Judge Kern found that Oklahoma’s ban on same sex marriage failed the rational basis test. As for the Equal Protection test under the U.S. Constitution:
Against this backdrop, the Court’s task is to determine whether Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment deprives a class of Oklahoma citizens – namely, same-sex couples desiring an Oklahoma marriage license – of equal protection of the law. Applying deferential rationality review, the Court searched for a rational link between exclusion of this class from civil marriage and promotion of a legitimate governmental objective. Finding none, the Court’s rationality review reveals Part A as an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit.
Equal protection is at the very heart of our legal system and central to our consent to be governed. It is not a scarce commodity to be meted out begrudgingly or in short portions. Therefore, the majority view in Oklahoma must give way to individual constitutional rights. The Bishop couple has been in a loving, committed relationships for many years. They own property together, wish to retire together, wish to make medical decisions for one another, and wish to be recognized as a married couple with all its attendant rights and responsibilities. Part A of the Oklahoma Constitutional Amendment excludes the Bishop couple, and all otherwise eligible same-sex couples, from this privilege without a legally sufficient justification.
November 1st, 2013
Since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the Defense Department has been rushing to implement policies designed to treat legally wedded same-sex couples equally with married couples generally. But several states have refused to issue Defense Department ID cards to same-sex spouses of National Guard members. Those states include Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a speech to the Anti-Defamation League, has announced that he is putting a stop to such discriminatory practices:
“Today, I directed the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Frank Grass, to take immediate action to remedy this situation. At my direction, he will meet with the Adjutants General from the states where these ID cards are being denied. The Adjutants General will be expected to comply with both lawful direction and DoD policy, in line with the practices of 45 other states and jurisdictions.”
A senior defense official told the Washington Blade that the Pentagon has some critical leverage to deploy against recalcitrant states:
“These are federal ID cards paid for with federal funding to provide federally mandated benefits,” the official said. “I’m not going to speculate on our legal options.”
October 23rd, 2013
That’s right. Oklahoma. Jason Pickel and Darren Black Bear have been together for nine years. The Oklahoma City couple had been planning to travel to Iowa to get married, but when the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, Black Bear decided to call the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe (both are tribe members) to see if they could get a license through the Cheyenne-Arapaho court. They got good news:
Rosemary Stephens, editor in chief of the Tribal Tribune, a newspaper owned by the tribe, said the tribe’s law does not address gender in its marriage ordinance.
“One of them has to be a member of this tribe but not both,” Stephens said. “It’s our tribal law and order code. It doesn’t address gender at all.”
And it’s not even the first gay marriage that the tribe has licensed, she said. Lisa Liebl, spokeswoman for the tribe, said the first couple was two men who married on Dec. 12, 2012. Liebl said there is a third couple who received a marriage license on Oct. 7. Pickel and Black Bear were just the first who were willing to go public with their marriage plans, she said.
That’s right. The news going around the interwebs is that this is the first same-sex marriage license issued in Oklahoma, when in fact there have now been three. The first was ten months ago.
The Tulsa World verified that the Cherokee Nation, the Osage Nation and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation all have laws with specific language which bans same-sex marriage. Stephens said that the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe has supported same-sex relationships for many years with no problems:
“We have a lot of support for gay couples within the tribe,” Stephens said. “They’re just not called out. … There’s a huge amount of support.”
As for the happy couple, they have planned a wedding for later this month. Black Bear’s father, a preacher, will officiate:
“My father has always fought for civil rights and equality and so that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to include them,” said Blackbear.
Blackbear says this will be his father’s first time officiating a same sex marriage, his father’s only request– for Blackbear and Pickel to write their own wedding vows.
Black Bear told Indian Country Today that his father has been contacted by other same-sex couples who want him to officiate at their weddings.
April 24th, 2012
Scott Lively, whose Abiding Truth Ministry is an official SPLC-certified hate group, has been invited by the pastor of Draper Park Christian Church to preach to the congregation on April 27-29. Lively is the author of The Pink Swastika, now in it’s fourth edition, in which he claims that “homosexuals invented and ran the Nazi Party.” It’s unlikely that the unsuspecting members of Draper Park Christian Church are aware of what is in store for them this weekend. To help prepare them for what’s coming, I think it’s important to lay out explicitly what Lively teachers, including:
(P 32) It was no coincidence that homosexuals were among those who founded the Nazi Party. In fact, the party grew out of a number of groups in Germany which were centers of homosexual activity and activism. Many of the characteristic rituals, symbols, activities and philosophies we associate with Nazism came from these organizations or from contemporary homosexuals.
(P 36) Famous events in Nazi history are also linked to homosexuality; events such as the burning of the German Reichstag in 1932, the 1938 pogrom called Kristallnacht, and the 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life. Even the enduring image of Nazi book-burning, familiar to us from newsreels of the 1930s, was directly related to the homosexuality of Nazi leaders.
He claims that the Nazi’s hatred of Jews came from German homosexual’s “hatred” of Judeo-Christian values:
(P 100): As we seek to understand Nazism, it is important to remember that Judaism and its Christian and Islamic offshoots are fundamentally opposed to homosexuality. As we begin to grasp the relationship between homosexuality and occultism on one hand, and between homosexuals and Nazism on the other, the hatred of the Nazis for Jews and Christians may be more easily explained. The Jews were the people responsible for the demise of pagan world domination. Their theology (especially in its Christian form) banished pagan practices, including homosexuality, to a hidden and often reviled subculture. This is not to say that anti-Semitism is strictly a result of occult or homosexual influences. But at its very root there is a spiritual element to the Holocaust that suggests that it was, in some respects, vengeance against the people whose moral laws had relegated pagan sex-religions to obscurity and ignominy.
As for the German gays who themselves were sent to concentration camps, Lively has an answer for that: it’s the result of a war between “butches” and “fems”:
(P43-44) This, then, is the explanation for the paradox of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. It is found in the history of two irreconcilable philosophies linked by a common sexual dysfunction. The roots of this conflict extend back into the eighteenth century and span a 70-year period which saw the rise of homosexual militancy in the movement that gave Nazism to the world.
According to Lively, Nazism may have been vanquished in World War II, but violent fascism remains the inevitable result of gay people being treated as equals in society:
(P275) One of the symbols with which homosexuals in the United States have chosen to represent their movement is the phoenix, a mythical bird that was said to burn itself on a funeral pyre every five hundred years and then rise from the ashes more majestic than before (Alyson Almanac:56). A more apt symbol for the historic cycle of homo-fascism and resulting social chaos would be hard to find. From the ashes of Nazi Germany, the homo-fascist phoenix has arisen again — this time in the United States.
(P297-298) …(H)omo-fascism did not die with Adolf Hitler. It lives on in the neo-Nazi movement and in “gay” culture itself. Clearly, actual Nazis exist today as a radical fringe of society with no real power to threaten civilization. This would be a comforting realization if we presumed that Nazism was itself the source of the evil that threatened to engulf the world and was not merely the product of a deeper and still-enduring social problem. Our thesis, however, is that Nazism was the consequence of Germany’s abandonment of Judeo-Christian morality and that the primary sponsors of its transformation were homosexuals.
Lively claims that what happened in Germany is inevitable to happen in America, in some form or fashion, if equality for LGBT people is enshrined in law.
(P299-300) If the rise of Nazism in Germany was made possible, at least in part, by the homosexualization of German society, what does this bode for America as we watch the steady advance of the “gay” agenda in this culture? Should we expect to witness something like the rise of a Third Reich on American soil? Or would the effect on American society be of an entirely different character? Is the “gay” movement in the United States sufficiently similar to its German counterpart as even to warrant concern? (Certainly the German “gay” culture was far more militaristic than the homosexual movement here, for example). Or is this the wrong question? Is there something about homosexuality (or the broader problem of sexual libertinism) that inevitably destroys the society that embraces it?
…We know that the implicit goal of homosexual political activism is to legitimize homosexual conduct and relationships in a society. This necessarily requires a society to abandon its commitment to marriage as the exclusive domain of acceptable sexual conduct. The abandonment of this standard logically opens the door to every other form of sexual promiscuity. Clearly, such a transformation of attitude is now occurring in America. What we will find is that this transformation is not the result of random social forces, but of deliberate and systematic political activism by the “gay” movement.
He has even tried to tied homosexuality to the 9/11 terror attacks:
(P269) We turn next to the relationship between the Nazi regime and the Islamist terror groups which share its militarism and its anti-Semitism. …Islamist terrorism has become an issue of great interest since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, against the United States. Interestingly, the leaders of the nineteen terrorists, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, have been reported to be homosexuals. ..
This is just a taste of what Lively is likely to preach this weekend at Draper Park. He shared many of these themes during other talks that he has given, including his infamous self-described “Nuclear Bomb” that he dropped in Kampala, Uganda in 2009. It was there where he said that gay men were the “kind of monsters” who would operate Nazi Germany’s gas chambers, and he added the Rwandan Genocide to his list of crimes he holds gay people responsible for. Within days, there were marches in the streets calling for the round-up of gay people and “strengthening” that nation’s laws against homosexuality. By the end of the year, there was a proposal before Uganda’s Parliament to kill gay people, and criminalize virtually everyone else, including family and friends, who had any connection with them.
Draper Park appears to have some sort of connection with First Stone Ministries, an Exodus-affiliated ex-gay ministry under the leadership of Stephen Black. It’s unclear what role he plays in this, but this wall post on Draper Park’s facebook page “thanks Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries” while pointing to an article put out by MassResistance (another SPLC-certified hate group,) about Lively, an “upcoming DPCC keynote speaker.” Exodus International president Alan Chambers quickly moved to disassociate his organization from the upcoming event:
We have learned that Scott Lively is slated to speak on April 27-29 at Draper Park Christian Church, a location where Exodus International held a regional conference in 2009. We want to say clearly and without question that Exodus International has no connection to this event. Furthermore, due to our vast differences with Mr. Lively’s viewpoints, including his stance on the criminalization of homosexuality, we will not participate in, support or promote any event involving Mr. Lively.
Lively has managed to do something no one else has: He has united unusual coalition among Oklahoma City pastors who oppose his message, including some who also oppose gay rights. Wayne Besen has those details, which include a press conference on Thursday, and a live broadcast of Oklahoma: Inside Out Friday evening devoted to Lively’s appearance.
March 7th, 2012
Romney hangs in there again like a punch-drunk fighter staggering toward the finish of the sixth round (ooh look at me, I’m using a sports metaphor), picking up wins in six of the states up for grabs yesterday including a very hotly contested Ohio, where Santorum very nearly pulled off an upset. Romney did best in his home state of Massachusetts, and he did well in neighboring Vermont. He also did very well in the Idaho caucuses, where 23% of spudsters are fellow Mormons. There were no exit polls in Idaho, but in Arizona where Mormons made up 14% of the vote, they broke 96-4 for Romney on Feb 28.
Romney also did very well where he had very little actual competitors (Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot). Which is to say that he has done very well where he had the home field advantage (as did Gingrich) or where his most potent opponent was missing. Or Alaska.
Which goes to day that Romney is still having trouble closing the deal with Santorum racking up rack up wins in the more conservative middle bits of the continent. In Oklahoma, Santorum’s first place finish came in spite of Sen. Tom Coburn’s endorsement of Romney, while Romney actually came in third in North Dakota and just barely avoided that same fate in Oklahoma. And in Ohio, where Romney poured massive amounts of dollars into the race, he only managed to pull out a 1% win over Santorum in the bellwether state. But even there, he he lost among Evangelical, blue collar and rural voters, but won among those who were 50 and older.
But here’s the stat I find most telling: When Ohio voters were asked whether they’d support Romney in the general election regardless of who they voted for in the primary, 36% said they would not be satisfied with a Romney candidacy, versus 33% who said they’d reject a Santorum candidacy. In other words, Ohio Republicans are less willing to settle for Romney than Santorum.
But this is a race for delegates, not popular votes. And whatever weaknesses that exist in Romney’s popular support within the GOP, he’s still by far the frontrunner in the delegate race according to CNN’s count, with more delegates than his opponents combined. But at only about half way through the primaries, Romney’s still a long way from the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Kansas, US Virgin Islands and Guam hold caucuses next week, followed by primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii the week after that. Which means that for Romney, the long slog continues. But for the other candidates in the field, the slog is even longer.
The idea behind Super Tuesday was to bring the nomination process into clearer focus. The only thing made clear yesterday is that GOP voters would still prefer another candidates. But that’s not the choice available to them. Which means that Romney will almost certainly be the nominee when all is said and done, but what is said and done before then will continue to be the story. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post put it, “For three guys who profess to not like the media very much, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are really making all our dreams of a long, unpredictable primary come true.”
June 9th, 2010
Oklahoma state representative Sally Kern, who has called gay people more dangerous to the country than terrorists, will face a transgender opponent, attorney Brittany Novotny (pictured), in the general election for the Oklahoma City seat this fall. Novotny, the state’s first known transgender candidate, filed papers to run Tuesday.
Both Novotny and Kern say that neither will make Novotny’s gender identity a campaign issue. We’ll just see how long Kern stays classy.
April 6th, 2010
A controversial hate-crimes bill did not get a hearing Monday in a House committee. Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, became the House author of Senate Bill 1965, by Sen. Steven Russell, R-Oklahoma City. Shelton said he took control of the bill to kill it and asked that the bill not get heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill began life as an educational bill, but Sen. Russell stripped it of its language and title, and turned it into a bill which would have prohibited local and state law enforcement agencies from sharing information about hate crimes based on sexual orientation with federal authorities. That effort turned to embarrassment when it was learned that an error in the bill would actually have attempted to strip Oklahomans of their protections against crimes based on race, religion and ethnicity.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.