OKLAHOMA CITY – As the Oklahoma Senate considers hearing SB 197, a bill from last session that would have far reaching and long lasting consequences by empowering discrimination, the ACLU of Oklahoma and Freedom Oklahoma issued the following statements:
The following can be attributed to Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director, Troy Stevenson:
"It’s hard to imagine a measure that more broadly discriminates than SB 197. This measure acts as a scare tactic for LGBTQ Oklahomans, but is so sweeping in its current form that it would ultimately legalize discrimination against same sex couples, transgender Oklahomans, interfaith or interracial couples, or virtually anyone celebrating an occasion to which an individual may have a religious objection. Such blatant discrimination should be a non starter, but unfortunately in this political environment, cheap points have become more important than upholding even the most basic notions of human decency. We implore the Senate to reject SB 197 and demonstrate that Oklahoma seeks to someday be a place open to all.”
The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Oklahoma External Affairs Director, Allie Shinn:
"This bill was too extreme to move last year but it’s no surprise to see it return just as political pressure is mounting. Each year, Oklahoma legislators ramp up their attacks on Oklahoma’s political minorities under the guise of protecting religious freedom. But this bill is not about religious liberty; it’s a means of weaponizing religion to excuse state sanctioned discrimination.
It may be tempting to dismiss these attacks as distractions from more pressing issues, but for the LGBTQ people who call Oklahoma home, annual attacks from their own government are pressing. This population that has been so marginalized historically and today, need respect and protection from our government rather than continued denial of liberty. There are far too many who wish to hide behind their religion as an excuse to do harm to Oklahoma’s LGBTQ population. This bill, if passed, would only further that cause.”