OKLAHOMA CITY – What is being called the ‘Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act’ is one of a number of proposals at the Oklahoma State Capitol that has people fired up.
“These proposed bills would provide a license to discriminate against families like mine,” said Amanda McLain–Snipes with Freedom Oklahoma.
State Senator Joseph Silk said his proposal would prohibit the state from forcing someone to violate their conscience when it relates to marriage, lifestyle or behavior.
“If you own a religious bakery whether it be Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, whatever it may be and you are requested to participate and, right now the hot topic is homosexual marriage, and that participation or in you actually participating in that would violate your conscience, you shouldn’t have to do that,” Silk said.
He said his bill has been called homophobic but argues it is far from that.
“There are a lot of Protestants out there whether it be ministers or religious organizations, churches that don’t believe in, you know, living together before marriage and, if that would violate their religious beliefs and their conscience, they shouldn’t have to participate in that either, and that’s a heterosexual marriage,” Silk said.
“Take a closer look. These proposals are not just about florists refusing to sell flowers to gay couples,” McLain-Snipes said.
Those who oppose the measure believe it would lead to legal chaos and lawsuits that would ultimately cost the taxpayer.
“The common denominator is the same no matter where you are: significant reputation damage, substantial negative economic impacts and a clear demonstration that these proposals are out of touch with where our values are as a country and Oklahomans,” McLain-Snipes said.
The State Chamber of Oklahoma has weighed in on the proposal.
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Jonathan Buxton released the following statement:
“We have concerns about the impact the current version of Senate Bill 197 would have on the relationship between employers and employees and look forward to discussing these concerns with the Senator this session. We worry that this type of legislation can send the wrong message to job creators about the focus of the legislature this year. Businesses want to see the legislature working toward solutions for issues like the budget deficit and education funding in order to keep Oklahoma open for business.”