To the Editor:
State Legislator Sally Kern has proposed three bills restricting the rights of the LGBT community in Oklahoma.
Proposed House Bill 1597 essentially would have allowed businesses to refuse services to the LGBT community without ramification. However, Kern recently withdrew the bill because she said it did not accomplish her goal.
Proposed House Bill 1598 “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act” is the second bill authored by Kern. According to the bill, “This legislation will allow mental health providers, psychologists, psychiatrists, school counselors, social workers, professional counselors or marital and family therapists, pastors and youth ministers, to engage in talk therapy with persons under the age of 18 to correct unwanted sexual attraction or gender identity.”
House Bill 1599, “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act,” states that “No taxpayer funds or governmental salaries shall be paid for any activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage. No employee of this state and no employee of any local governmental entity shall officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pension or other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state.” Upon approval, it would become effective immediately.
In an interview, Kern responded to LGBT advocates who are calling the proposed legislation “hate-filled.” Kern’s reponse was, “If they want to live that way, let them, but see that’s not enough for them, right now. What they want is to force their lifestyle upon the rest of us. They are on the wrong side of the moral issue, so yes they are going to seem like they are attacked .”
The right side of the moral issue is not one’s sexual preference or gender identity, but that all citizens receive equal protection under the law regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation.
These bills not only have no benefits for Oklahomans, but they are also a demonstration of bigotry against the defining civil rights movement of our generation. History will view Sally Kern in the same way it views George Wallace and Strom Thurmond — as individuals who delivered hateful and bigoted options that demonstrated nothing more than their self-righteous zeal.
Perhaps, just as important, is these bills are a needless distraction that takes attention and time away from more pressing issues such as the $300 million budget shortfall.
To contact Charles Rushton, email firstname.lastname@example.org