Oklahoma state lawmaker Sally Kern, who has authored three new bills intended to roll back LGBT progress in the state, says she doesn't "hate anybody" but that LGBT people are on "the wrong side of the moral issue."
Kern's bills would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, assure that parents could place their children in so-called conversion therapy (which is now illegal in two states and Washington, D.C.), and prohibit public funds from going to state agencies that recognize same-sex marriages.
But in light of those bills, Kern told critics, "I don't hate anybody. It means you look at an issue and decide what's right." She added to TV station KFOR, "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."
Kern first received national attention after calling gay people more dangerous to the country than terrorists back in 2008.
Kern's three bills are part of a group of anti-LGBT bills that were submitted to the state legislature for this session. Rep. Todd Russ's bill would add a religious component to the issuance of marriage licenses for in Oklahoma. His proposed policy would require a clergy member to sign a couple's marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the county clerk. If no clergy member is willing to do so, the couple's union would be listed as a common-law marriage. Rep. Mike Ritze has introduced a bill that several LGBT rights organizations said causes stigma against transgender people, as it requires trans people to declare their gender identity on any marriage application or marriage license.
On the state Senate side, Joseph Silk’s bill is the companion bill to Kern's that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers, while Corey Brooks's legislation would allow individuals and religious organizations to refuse to “provide any services, accommodations, [or] facilities,” solemnize, or even recognize any marriage or civil union based on their “sincerely held beliefs religious beliefs … regarding sex or gender.”
Freedom Oklahoma executive director Troy Stevenson issued a statement this month saying the onslaught of proposed legislation is an attack on LGBT Oklahomans but that they will fight back. "We won marriage last year, and in retaliation, a tiny handful of lawmakers have lashed out at us with an unprecedented amount of discriminatory legislation," he said.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who would have to sign these bills for them to become law if they are passed by the legislature, expressed her opposition to marriage equality when Oklahoma had to recognize same-sex marriages when the U.S. Supreme Court when it decided last year not to review an appellate court decision striking down its ban. She told the Tulsa World this week that she has a policy of not commenting on bills during the legislative process.
“On any legislation that deals with those types of issues, I just don’t have any comment on it," Fallin said. "But I will tell you this. I have gone to restaurants with gay friends.”
She later added, “The language needs to be looked at and analyzed, but in general, I have lots of gay friends that I do talk to, hang out with, and I think we should respect them. They are good Oklahomans.”