LGBT advocates criticize 26 measures introduced in Oklahoma Legislature

OKLAHOMA CITY — In a state Capitol press conference held January 26, an advocacy group for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) causes said 26 measures introduced for consideration in the 2016 session of the Oklahoma Legislature are discriminatory.

The Gayly website posted a detailed press release about the event, summarizing critiques of the 26 proposals:

“In a year where our state is facing a billion dollar budget shortfall, legislators are pushing over two-dozen bills that – if passed – are guaranteed to cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma millions of dollars in litigation fees, just to make the point that they don’t believe gay and transgender Oklahoman’s should be considered equal in the eyes of the law.”

The Gayly (, available in print and online, is a news organization based in Oklahoma’s capital city. It covers state and regional news concerning LGBT citizens and issues.

Ryan Kiesel, executive of the Oklahoma ALCU and a speaker at the press briefing, said the bills “have no place in a society that prides itself on the values of equality and freedom. Legislative leaders have shown us that that they can exercise their authority and kill these bills tomorrow.”

Attendees at the Freedom Oklahoma press conference criticized measures they said would, among other things, bar teachers from helping “students in distress,” and allow use of controversial “conversion therapy.”

One proposed joint resolution assailed during the Freedom Oklahoma event is patterned on Indiana measures and would, attendees contend, create a firestorm in economic damage. The Associated Press reported one estimate that the Indiana provisions resulted in more than $60 million in lost revenue for the Hoosier State.

“For the second year in a row a handful of Oklahoma legislators have decided to engage in the politics of distraction rather than attempting to address the real problems of our state, such as a budget shortfall set to exceed a billion dollars,” said Troy Stevenson, who serves as executive director for Freedom Oklahoma.

In material provided to news organizations, Freedom Oklahoma’s members describe the group as “Oklahoma’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization and a proud member of the Equality Federation.”