Oklahoma bill could strip city LGBT protections not outlined by the state

OKLAHOMA CITY — Quick facts:

  • Senate Bill 694 bans cities from offering more LGBT protections than the state.
  • The bill would make Tulsa's Fair Housing Act illegal.
  • Some groups across the state are voicing opposition for the bill.

Groups across the Sooner State fear an Oklahoma bill that could strip LGBT protections across the Sooner State as it moves one step closer to becoming law.

Senate Bill 694 bans cities from offering more protections for LGBT folks than the state offers.

If the bill passes, Tulsa's Fair Housing Act that stops landlords from denying housing to LGBTQ people would become illegal.

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The Tulsa city council added the act in April 2015 after the local LGBT community asked for an equal housing ordinance for more than 40 years.

The bill, written by State Senator Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), would also affect non-discrimination ordinances in Oklahoma City and Norman.

Freedom Oklahoma executive director Troy Stevenson released a statement on the bill Monday:

"The current assault on the LGBTQ community by a handful of bigoted zealots under the dome at 23rd and Lincoln is a stain upon our state and an embarrassment to every fair-minded Oklahoman. Freedom Oklahoma and our allies will spare no expense to stop this bigotry in its tracks. We will not allow our community to be used as a distraction from Oklahoma's fiscal crisis, and we will fight to our last breath to prove that Oklahoma is a state that doesn't hate. Senators Silk and Brecheen are out of touch with the Oklahoma Standard, and their agenda of bias and discrimination will not be allowed to move forward." 

Toby Jenkins, executive director of Oklahomans for Equality, also released a response to the bill:

"Oklahoma State Senator Brecheen's Senate Bill 694 is discrimination. He admits it is, but does not want it called discrimination, because that means it comes from a place of hate. He wants the LGBTQ community to believe his desire to strip municipalities' and county-elected officials' power to enact anti-discrimination ordinances is an act of love. Local municipal and county leaders across the state are working to create inclusive and welcoming cities and counties, because the state senators and representatives refuse to make it unlawful to discriminate against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people. Senator Brecheen is saying loud and clear, 'Tulsa, you are not being mean enough to your gay and transgender people.' Oklahomans for Equality will oppose Senate Bill 694 and hope our elected officials will condemn any bill that strips their authority."

The bill now heads to the full senate for a vote.

Brecheen is also a co-author of another senate bill that some fear could affect LGBT rights in the state.

Senate Bill 197, authored by State Senator Joseph Silk (R-District 5), would allow individuals to refuse "any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges used in a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior" they believe contradicts their "sincerely held religious beliefs or conscience."

Freedom Oklahoma described that bill as "worse than HB 2 in North Carolina," referring to the controversial bathroom bill there.

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