I mentioned yesterday that Arkansas looked worse than even Texas and Utah in displaying legislative animosity toward gay people. But wait, Oklahoma has taken the lead.
The Oklahoma House has passed — passed — a bill to make marriage solely a religious ceremony. Only the clergy could issue marriage licenses. Don’t want a preacher marrying you? Then you may file a common law marriage affidavit. The idea is to “save” county officials from being forced by federal court rulings to issue marriage licenses against their religious beliefs.
Acknowledging that his bill is partially in response to the federal court ruling, [Rep. Todd] Russ told ABC News affiliate KSWO that the federal government lacks the power to “force its new definitions of what they believe on independent states.”
Didn’t George Wallace try that tack? But these are new days. And apparently LGBT people are a whole lot more dangerous than black people.
Russ sees no problem in barring non-believers from marriage (which, incidentally, confers hundreds of legal rights under the law).
“They don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect,” Russ told KSWO, “then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”
But there is one person in Oklahoma’s legislature I’d like to meet, Rep. Emily Virgin. She’s a Democrat (from Norman, one of those college towns full of liberal types.) She has an amendment for Oklahoma’s bill aimed, like Arkansas’s at creating a religious pretext in law to deny commercial services to gay people. You know, the No Cake for Queers legislation built around the mythical wedding cake baker who simply could not on religious grounds supply cake to a gay wedding. (A couple of adulterers, no problem-o.)
In the amendment, Oklahoma Rep. Emily Virgin suggests that wedding-related companies “not wanting to participate” in a business exchange based on the “sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party” shall “shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites,” according to The Gayly Oklahoman.
The amendment continues that the notice “may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race.”
The proposed amendment has received some praise. Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson told Raw Story in a statement, “If the state of Oklahoma is going to protect discrimination, then at the very least, businesses should be required to own their bias, and post it publicly for the world to see.”
The Dallas Voice’s David Taffet wrote that the proposal also had an unintended benefit for heterosexual customers, too: “That way, a straight couple that wouldn’t have been turned away would be notified that they’re doing business with bigots and might want to find an alternate vendor as well.”
Virgin posted on her Facebook page late last night that the gay discrimination bill appeared dead for this session.
Arkansas legislature, you’re on deck.