OK Lawmakers Make Last-Minute Effort Move Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

Jim Burroway

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:

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:

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:

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.


May 25th, 2016

To Rep. Fisher:

“Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.” (Paraphrased from a quote by George Santayana)


May 26th, 2016

That seems to be the new strategy: Sneak it through when no one’s looking, the faster the better.

Do you get the idea they know these bills are wrong on every level — legally and morally — and don’t care?

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