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LGBTQ advocates take stand against Oklahoma legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY - Freedom Oklahoma and LGBTQ advocates are taking a stand against bills this legislative session they said are discriminatory.

“We've seen things like bathroom bills, right of conscience distract us from the real work at hand,” said Rep. Emily Virgin.

For years, advocates said they have been protesting against bills they call divisive and discriminatory.

Thursday, they said they want to change the rhetoric in the capitol.

“Being an Oklahoman is just being an Oklahoman, and you should have all of the same rights and opportunities as each and every other person,” said Rep. Jason Dunnington.

Dunnington is introducing a bill that prohibits harassment on a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

LGBTQ advocates said, for far too long, discriminatory pieces of legislation have been a common practice under the dome.

“It's really in bad form for them to continue to embarrass the state of Oklahoma by putting out this anti-business legislation year after year after year,” said Troy Stevenson with Freedom Oklahoma.

In 2018 alone, lawmakers have already filed bills that would allow business owners to deny services if they violate their religious or moral beliefs.

“A privately held business cannot be forced to violate their conscience when serving individual customers,” said Senator Joseph Silk.

Silk said his right to conscience bill protects everyone regardless of race or sexual orientation.

“When you just look at stuff logically and rationally, which they have a problem doing, it protects everybody the exact same way, whether you be a homosexual business owner or Muslim business owner,” Silk said.

There are federal laws that protect individuals from harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Dunnington's bill would protect people in all cases in Oklahoma.