Sustained Grassroots Campaign from LGBT Advocates Obliterates Legislative Support for 2 Anti-LGBT Bills in Oklahoma

By Megan Clayton • March 23, 2017 • 5:06 pm

Two anti-LGBT bills are officially dead for the session in the Sooner State thanks to a sustained grassroots pressure campaign from Freedom Oklahoma, the statewide advocacy group working to secure full equality and legal protections for LGBT Oklahomans.

Freedom Oklahoma and the ACLU of Oklahoma have been working for months to sink these two pieces of legislation which, if passed, would have stripped employment and public accommodation protections from municipalities around the state (Senate Bill 694) and enacted a North Carolina-style “license to discriminate” (Senate Bill 197).

This unrelenting grassroots effort paid off today when 25 Oklahoma state senators heeded the call of their constituents and took a historic stand against anti-LGBT discrimination by voting down SB 694, originally sponsored by Senator Josh Brecheen. SB 197’s original sponsor, Senator Joseph Silk, pulled his bill shortly after, knowing it was likely to fail by an even greater margin.

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson said today was a “turning point in the fight for freedom and equality”:

“Freedom Oklahoma, our allies, and every LGBTQ Oklahoman owes a debt of gratitude to the 25 Oklahoma state senators who stood up today and declared loudly that discrimination is not welcome in Oklahoma. Lawmakers are no longer sitting on the sidelines. Today they stood strong, debated, and voted their conscience. We won today, but more importantly Oklahoma won today as well.”

ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel echoed those sentiments, and called on the legislature to take heed of today’s vote, and start working toward passing LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination protections in the future.

“At least for today, we celebrate an end to the legislature’s hateful attack on Oklahoma’s LGBTQ community. This population that has been marginalized historically and today, desperately need further protection from our government, rather than an annual assault on their liberty. We applaud those Senators who worked to ensure this hateful legislation did not proceed. We can only hope that today’s vote sends a clear message to those who still wish to do harm to Oklahoma’s LGBTQ population.”

Over the past three years, the LGBT community—led by Freedom Oklahoma’s efforts in the legislature—have fought off more than 40 discriminatory pieces of legislation, a stunning feat that clearly shows the power of constituents making their voices heard.

Freedom for All Americans would like to extend a round of heartfelt praise to Freedom Oklahoma, LGBT Oklahomans, and their allies across the state for their hard work this year and every year fighting discrimination. We too urge Oklahoma lawmakers to get serious about protecting LGBT Oklahomans from discrimination, rather than advance harmful bills year after year.

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