Freedom Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s LGBT community is under attack

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OKLAHOMA CITY – After more than half a dozen anti-gay legislation bills were filed for the 2015 legislative session, advocates for the LGBT community say they’ve had enough.

The gay advocacy group says bills proposed by several lawmakers for the 2015 legislative session are an attack on the gay community.

The new group, Freedom Oklahoma, is made up of the Equality Network and the Cimarron Alliance Foundation.

As a new force together, they say they’re ready take on those who are against the LGBT community.

“We will be present, we will make sure that legislators know, if you’re going to legislate against our rights, you’re going to have to do it while you look us in the eye,” Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma said.

A loaded response to the more than half a dozen bills proposed this session, they call anti-gay.

“Together we are bigger, together we are stronger and together we will win,” Stevenson says.

Advocates spoke directly about bills authored by representatives Sally Kern, Chuck Strohm, Todd Russ, and senators Joseph Silk and Corey Brooks.

“No other state in the union has seen more anti-LGBT legislation introduced during this legislative session. The battle ground is right here in Oklahoma,” Representative Emily Virgin said.

The bills would allow Oklahomans to refuse any type of service for members of the gay community.

Some that would make it illegal to issue same-sex marriage licenses, both bills citing religious freedom.

There’s also a ‘Freedom to obtain conversion therapy act,” which would help stop youth from being attracted to the same sex.

“We will defeat these hate-filled pieces of legislation, and please know there are many, many legislators who are on your side,” Virgin says.

LGBT supporters say they believe the bills stem from fear and misunderstanding of the gay community.

“The solution to that problem, is simple, it’s conversation, it’s people talking about it and listening to one another,” ACLU legal director, Brady Henderson said.

A conversation everyone at the Capitol will find themselves chatting about for the next few months.

We tried reaching all 5 lawmakers who proposed the bills.

We did hear back from Rep. Kern and Senator Silk who say they will speak with us tomorrow.

Rep. Russ says his goal is to defend Oklahomans who have spiritual convictions.

Late this afternoon, Senator Corey Brooks sent us the following statement, defending his bill”

“My bill, SB 478, is not anti-anyone or anything, it simply helps protect those who have strong religious beliefs….it would give legal protection and recognize the freedoms of the religious community and state employees with moral opposition to gay marriage.”

Rep. Kern has authored HB 1598, HB 1597 and HB 1599.

Rep. Strohm authored HB 1371.

Rep. Todd Russ authored HB 1125.

Senator Silk has authored SB 440.

Senator Brooks has authored SB 478.


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