Post submitted by Stephen Peters, former Senior National Press Secretary and Spokesperson
Today, HRC and Freedom Oklahoma sounded the alarm on a barrage of egregious anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in the Oklahoma state legislature by anti-equality activists. With state lawmakers set to convene on February 6th for the 2017 legislative session, at least 8 bills attacking LGBTQ Oklahomans and their families are already in the docket for consideration -- the most of any state in the nation. HRC and Freedom Oklahoma are warning the state’s lawmakers to look to North Carolina as a warning, where a deeply discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law continues to wreak havoc on the people, reputation, and economy of the state.
“Passage of any of these discriminatory bills would be incredibly harmful to Oklahoma’s economy and result in multiple, expensive legal challenges,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “These legislative proposals targeting LGBTQ people and their families are shameful, far-reaching, and blatant attacks on fairness and equality. North Carolina is a clear example of the consequences that come with ramming discriminatory legislation into law. Instead of plowing down the same destructive path, Oklahoma lawmakers must reject these vile proposals.”
“Once again, 3 of the 149 sitting Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed multiple anti-LGBTQ bills aimed at further marginalizing their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans constituents,” said Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson. “To be clear, Senator Joseph Silk, Senator Josh Brecheen, and Representative Chuck Strohm have formed a small cabal of bias under the dome at the Oklahoma State Capitol, and we will do everything in our power to assure they fail in their attempt to harm our community and the economic stability or our state.”
The far reaching discriminatory bills in Oklahoma include a proposal restricting transgender people from using school facilities consistent with their gender identity; numerous pieces of legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; legislation targeting LGBTQ youth; and proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to refuse goods or services to LGBTQ people under the guise of religion.
The fallout over North Carolina’s discriminatory HB2 law has been swift and severe and is a clear warning to lawmakers across the country considering similar proposals. Following passage in March of 2016, HB2 triggered a national outcry of opposition and a broad range of voices continue to speak out demanding its full and complete repeal. The economic fallout -- including hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business -- continues to grow as companies concerned with protecting their consumers and employees move conventions, trainings, operations, productions, and other events out of state. In November, former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory became the only incumbent governor from either party to lose on Election Day specifically because he championed and signed HB2 into law.
The attack on fairness and equality in Oklahoma is part of an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in 2017 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking more than 50 anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals in 17 states. For more information, visit http://hrc.im/2017legislature.