Just up the road in Oklahoma, the state Senate yesterday approved an amendment that’s apparently designed to opt out of federal hate crimes protections for LGBT people:
In an amendment presented on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, gutted a bill that had been filed to create a task force to study the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, and inserted language to make changes to the state’s hate crime statutes.
Under the new provisions of Senate Bill 1965, reports that were collected during investigations of possible hate crime that did not end in a conviction would be destroyed or kept by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
Russell said the bill is meant to prevent the federal law enforcement officials from taking over a case and applying different standards when local law enforcement has already investigated a case.
Only a few senators questioned Russell about the contents of his proposed amendment.
The measure passed 39-6 and now heads to the House for consideration.
Russell has previously proposed stand-alone legislation to opt out of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed by Congress last year:
State Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, said the newly passed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which extends hate crimes law protections to include actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability, oversteps the bounds of the federal government and hinders free speech and religious freedom.
“The federal government should not be creating a special class of people, and that is just what they did when they passed and signed this bill,” Russell said. “All crimes against another person have some level of hate in them, and people can be assured that our laws that protect people against crimes such as murder are sufficient to protect everyone.”
Russell said because the government has decided to intervene on issues of morality, he is worried that religious leaders who speak out against any lifestyle could be imprisoned for their speech.
“The law is very vague to begin with,” Russell said. “Sexual orientation is a very vague word that could be extended to extremes like necrophilia.”
Russell said he is also concerned if someone is attacked and killed for his or her sexual orientation, the suspect could pass the blame onto a religious leader who preached out against the lifestyle of the victim who was attacked.
Russell said, as a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, he is upset that the new hate crimes bill was attached to a defense spending bill.
“This bill couldn’t stand on its own merits through multiple sessions of Congress, so a few activist representatives stuck it into a defense spending bill,” Russell said. “A bill supporting the troops was turned into an activist bill where, if you voted against the hate crimes act, it made you look like you were voting against the troops.”
UPDATE: The Equality Network, Oklahoma’s nonpartisan statewide LGBT advocacy organization, has issued a formal response. Read it after the jump.
Oklahoma State Senate Votes to Obstruct Federal Hate Crimes Law
Tulsa – March 11 – The Equality Network (TEN) is outraged by the Oklahoma State Senate’s 39-6 vote in support of SB 1965, a bill that forces state law enforcement officials to obstruct the provisions of the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Using an amendment to gut the language of a bill that had been filed to create a task force to study the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, Senator Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City) inserted the text of SB 2165, a bill that the Senate Judiciary Committee had declined to pass on to the floor.
The new SB 1965 leaves LGBT Oklahomans no legal recourse if they are victims of hate crimes. Not only does the state hate crimes law exclude sexual orientation or gender identity, but SB 1965 also prevents law enforcement officials from asking for federal assistance in enforcing the LGBT-inclusive federal hate crimes law. The bill does not seek to repeal federal or state hate crimes protections accorded on the basis of race, national origin, religion, or disability. Instead, it intentionally excludes only hate crimes perpetrated on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, two categories added to federal hate crimes law by the U.S. Congress in October 2009.
“Senator Russell’s bill is truly terrifying in its implications.” warns Kathy L. Williams, Ph.D., president of The Equality Network. “This legislation sends the message that violence against LGBT Oklahomans is acceptable. It also sets a chilling precedent that Oklahoma will only enforce certain federal laws and cooperate only with selected federal agencies. We believe this unconstitutional and blatantly discriminatory bill will harm all Oklahomans, regardless of their identity and regardless of whether or not they are victims of hate crimes.”
SB 1965 will now be considered by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. If the measure passes the House and is signed by Governor Brad Henry, it will become state law.
How do evil people like Russell sleep at night? His thoughts and actions would be laughable if they were not so despicable.
“The law is very vague to begin with,” Russell said. “Sexual orientation is a very vague word that could be extended to extremes like necrophilia.”
Thanks for posting this. I am the grassroots organizer for The Equality Network, a nonpartisan LGBT advocacy group in Oklahoma. We are working to spread the word about this bill and definitely are not backing down.
Anyone can read the full bill at https://doiop.com/SB2165 .
Also, feel free to contact TEN. We are happy to help.
The Equality Network
“Sexual orientation is a very vague word that could be extended to extremes like necrophilia.”
Since this guy is so obsessed with having intercourse with cadavers, he should bang Sally Kern.
So does this mean that the Oklahoma Senate is in favor of hate? I can see the bumper stickers now “Oklahoma, where it’s OK to Hate” or “Oklahoma, Home of Hate”
What a sick twisted claim to fame.
Excuse me, but sexual orientation is NOT a vague word. And necrophilia is not sexual orientation, but a sexual fettish. Two totally different things. As a scholarly and very learned man, I would hope Sen. Russell that you know the difference. You basically just said being heterosexual is the same as being a necrophiliac. Really?
I think people get that who pulled the trigger is the killer. And if they sited that they went out and took care of something that their “religious leader” spoke about frequently and encouraged, then maybe that “religious leader” needs to realize what they are saying and how it influences others to act.
Oklahoma has long been a hateful state, much as Texas used to be. When I was a child I remember seeing a photograph of a billboard in Oklahoma that stated categorically the “N” word folks should “not let the sun set on them in the Oklahoma”. I suspect it was from the 40’s but who knows? Bigotry and hatred are still rampant in that state as well as here, it’s just bubbling under the surface. Obviously this Senator has managed to tap into it for his supporters.
I’ll bet Russell”s boyfriend is gonna be steamed.
What Senator Russell did was wrong. The 2 things I find offensive about it is that he likens sexual orientation to necrophilia, and that he feels religious leaders should not be held accountable for influencing their followers. Anyone knows that the only religious leaders who have a problem with sexual orientation are SOME Christian preachers or Catholic priests. And I thought followers of Christ were supposed to love and accept their fellow man, no mater what.
I would like to add that I was born & raised in Oklahoma and live there still. While there are tons of OLDER Oklahomans who are bigoted & hateful, and some younger ones who follow above named preachers,most Oklahomans who are much more “progressive”, and there are pockets of almost “modern civilization” in places like Tulsa, Norman, and centered around the universities and artists’ centers like the Paseo District. Please don’t think that we all have the same antiquated ideas of a few loud obnoxious senators. And know that we are trying to change the perceptions not only of the people who live her but also of the people who see us from the outside. Thank you
Just another nitwit who slept through his sociology and psychology classes. Of course that would assume he actually got an education.
All these comments are hilarious. Everyone’s really so mad about this? Wow. The main thing Russell is trying to accomplish is keeping local government decisions local. In an era where the federal government is constantly trying to extend its reach into every realm of our lives, I applaud Russell for standing up against Big Brother.
As for the issue of “sexual orientation,” anyone can argue that a perceived fetish is actually their sexual orientation. Without sounding too corny or naive, I’ve seen several episodes of Law & Order SVU where a pedophile or other sexual deviant would claim that pedophilia is their sexual orientation. There’s no way anyone can prove what sexual preference someone is or isn’t born with.
Bottom line, people aren’t going to say, “Hey, since this isn’t a federal hate crime then I’m gonna …” People commit hate crimes will commit them regardless of the law and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the only real difference is where they’re prosecuted. By the way, I’m not an Oklahoman and don’t really like the state to begin with… I just don’t like people misunderstanding or misusing the words of others. Peace out.
Oklahoma is Not OK
Russell wants the right to continue hating. This is part of the Bigots’ Bill of Rights.
Oh come on!
This is classic of “thou doth protest too much.”
To devote this kind of time to going after gay people (and no one else in the Federal Hate Crimes Law) is suspicious.
Hey Russel: Dude, you are gay.
JC Gonzo, go ahead and say people’s fight for their rights is hilarious. Go ahead and try to parse your argument about big brother pushing the states around.
In fact, go ahead and sound naive by admitting you get your education about legal issues from a TV show!
We know your true motivation, it is obvious in your words. We also know that without this federal law which we have fought for for years that some bigots in Oklahoma in law enforcement, and other states for that matter, will not prosecute hate crimes appropriately and we know that we need the feds to step in when necessary and do the right thing. We also know that by demanding protections we need from our government we are imposing costs and asking the feds to provide the resources is a good way to share the burdon.
Prove me wrong. Show me where you have advocated for the repeal of DOMA, which TRULY is what you complain about: the feds trying to overrule states rights.
If hate crimes were properly investigated at the state level, we would not need this federal law. Proof is in what has changed since. We’ve seen many cases investigated as hate crimes at the state level due to the knowledge the feds were looking over their shoulders since this law was enacted.
Just be honest, you want it to be ok to beat up gay people.
Why would any lesbian or gay person, or any of their friends or loved ones, choose to live in a state such as Oklahoma, which seems to be encouraging hate crimes? This inmplicit endorsement of violence against sexual minorities is chilling. I would hope any person of conscience would vote with their feet and move to more enlightened parts of the country that are not living in the dark ages of bigotry. Take your money, businesses, jobs, with you, and make OK feel it in the wallet.
Homophobia is a sin like lying, stealing and murder and the actions of unrepentant homophobe Russell shows us why. As the Bible warns us about false prophets, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit.” Allowing and encouraging hate crimes against law-abiding, taxpaying, gay Americans is clearly “bad fruit.”
The goal of the evil anti-gay agenda is to allow governemnt-sanctioned murder of gay people. Uganda is being used as a guinea pig by American radical anti-gay activists to determine the best way to put this in place. This measure allowing hate crimes against gay Americans is a first step to begin this process in Oklahoma and ultimately here in America.
When I retired, I left San Francisco to live in Tulsa to be near my sister and best friend. Now I am sorry that I ever left to live in a state with such a hateful and homophobic legislature. The less expensive cost of living comes with a big price tag.
“Much like Texas USED to be?” Come on Hardy Haberman, Texas is still just as bigoted and backwards as it always has been. Sure, there are pockets of progressives in every state, just like there are bigots in every state. Have you even BEEN to Texas lately?
It might be worth reminding people that Oklahoma has had a long and inglorious history of bigotry. This extract from a Library of Congress on-line exhibit is illuminating.
George W. McLaurin Segregated to the Anteroom
George W. McLaurin, a veteran school teacher living in Oklahoma applied to the all-white University of Oklahoma to pursue an advance degree in education in 1948. His application was rejected because Oklahoma statutes made it illegal for blacks and whites to attend the same school. McLaurin filed a complaint against the University on the state court level and won. He was allowed to attend classes but not with his fellow students. This photograph shows how he was segregated to the anteroom of a classroom in 1948 after his admission. In 1950, McLaurin filed suit with the and U.S. Supreme Court and won. The case paved the way for the Brown v. Board of Education cases.
And of course Russell is being completely absurd in the statement, “All crimes against another person have some level of hate in them.” It is distressing to realize that this guy was in the Armed Forces of the United States long enough, and with sufficient acceptance, to have been able to retire as a lieutenant colonel.
It always sends shivers down my spine when I hear about these backwards states and the crazy things people there think and do there. It’s like these states are stuck in 1920’s or something. Along with a few other states, I think I’d actually be afraid to visit Oklahoma! I just have this vision of some overweight small town sheriff pulling me over for speeding and then somehow I end up jail for a week for being from out of state!
Does the letters KKK remind this idiot of anything, he is nothing but a narrow minded egotist who thinks he knows better then anyone whats good for the people, he better wake up.
HARDYHABERMAN/EDASAYS I have active in every major and many human rights movements of the past half century. This has included my working in the Civil Rights Movement where I was the youngest regional coordinator for the 1968 Southern Christian Leadership Poor People’s Campaign as well as my participating in the rallies, protests and demonstrations immediately following the Stonewall Rebellion which have since come to be known as the “Three Days of Rage.” I became the youngest person to join the American Civil Liberties Union at the age of 15 in 1967.
As your comments point out, there have been times in America when: 1) the lives of Whites were valued more than the lives of Blacks; 2) the lives of Christians were valued more than the lives of Jews; 3) the lives of men were valued more than the lives of women; 4) the lives of the able-bodied were valued more than the lives of people with physical disabilities; and 5) the lives of the mentally healthy were valued more than the lives of people with mental disabilities. Indeed, we human rights
activists campaigned to changed those biases, prejudices and discriminations in fact as well as law.
Hate crimes legislation reverses that course. It values the lives of Blacks more than the lives of Whites and the lives of women more than the lives of men as well as the lives of the disabled more than the lives of the abled. Furthermore, the most common way to prove a hate crime is through evidence of “hate speech” which is to say statements made by the alleged perpetrator at the time or proximate to the time of the crime. Even the ACLU has acknowledged that making “hate speech” a crime is a violation of the Free Speech Clause of the 1st Amendment.
Moreover, many LGBT leaders know and others would agree that hate crimes legislation is bad law. But rather than undertake efforts to repeal bad law, LGBT “chose” to be included in bad law.
Solution to the inequities of hate crimes legislation is not inclusion therein but abolishment of such.
The fact that these laws may appear to be neutral belies the fact that is highly unlikely that: 1) a Black will be charged with a hate crime should he utter the word “honky,” prior to the assault or murder of a White person or even could it be otherwise demonstrated that the Black hated White people; 2) a Jew will be charged with a hate crime should he utter the word “Nazi,” prior to the assault or murder of a Christian or even could it otherwise be demonstrated that the Jew hated Christians; 3) a woman will be charged with a hate crime should she utter the word “bastard,” prior to the assault or murder of a man or even could it be proved otherwise that the woman hated men.
Likewise, it is unthinkable that a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender person would be charged with a hate crime should he/she utter the word “breeder,” prior to the assault or murder of a Straight person. In the case of LGBT, the problem is even more complicated because there is no DNA test by which one could prove that one is LGBT. The families and friends of most Jews know that their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or friends are Jewish. The “closet” means that many families and friends are unaware that their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or friends are Gay.
While most cases of rape are real, the fact is that there are women who cry rape knowing that the times have changed to such a degree that though legally the burden is that of the prosecutor on behalf of the female vicitim to prove the guilt of the male rapist, really the burden is that of the defense attorney on behalf of the male alleged perpetrator to prove his innocence.
While most cases of Gay bashing are real, the fact is that there are Straights who know that times have changed to such a degree that though there may still be stigma surrounding one’s identification as LGBT, they are prepared to claim that they are LGBT in order to potentially enhance the criminal penalties for those who have indeed violated them but not due to their sexual orienation. And this is not just a legal theory, it is a factual reality. Such has already taken place.
Two of my brother’s classmate friends and fellow Civil Rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner along with James Chaney were lynched by Klu Klux Klansmen in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1963. Suppose that prior to the killings, one or more of those Klansmen uttered the word “Nigger” or that it could be otherwise demonstrated that the Klansmen in question hated Blacks but not Jews, the potential penalty for murdering Chaney would have been greater than that for murdering Goodman and Schwerner. Suppose that Chaney had not been Black but the son of White Anglo Saxon Protestants and that prior to the killings, one or more of those Klansmen uttered the word “kike” or it could be otherwise demonstrated that the Klansmen in question hated Jews, the potential penalty for murdering Goodman and Schwerner would be greater than that for murdering a WASP Chaney.
What about a man injured or killed while defending a woman who is being called a “bitch,” “cunt” or “ho”? The potential penalty for the assault or murder of the woman would be greater than that for the assault or murder of the man who defended her. What about a Straight person injured or killed while defending a Gay or Lesbians who is being called a “fag” or a “dyke.” The potential penalty for the assault or murder of the Gay or Lesbian would be greater than that for the assault or murder of the Straight who defended the Gay or Lesbian.
What about a self-hating Latino who utters the word “Spic,” prior to assaulting or killing a fellow Latino. Is that a hate crime? What about a Chinese who utters the word “Jap” prior to assaulting or killing a fellow Asian? Is that a hate crime? What if the “Jap” turns out to be Filipino? What about a self-hating homosexual who utters the word “fag” prior to bashing a person he perceives to be Gay, but the victim out to be Straight? Is that a hate crime because the perpertrator thought the victim to be Gay? Or is not a hate crime because the perpetrator was mistaken about the sexual orientiation of the victim?
What about the White who says “Nigger” prior to assaulting or murdering a Black who passes for White? Is that not a hate a crime because the person passed for White or is it a hate crime because the person is in fact Black? What about the Straight who says “fag” prior to assaulting or murdering a person who passes for Straight? Is that not a hate crime because the person passed for Straight or is it a hate crime because the person is in fact Gay?
In American jursiprudence, the courts have determined that the offender must take the victim as he finds him. Which is to say that an offender is guilty for the damage done, regardless of his specific knowledge of the victim’s vulnerability. In other words: ignorance of the status may be no excuse.
I can’t wait till this guy comes out of the closet. He has so much self hate that its only a matter of time that he does. Eventually this new amendment will deemed unconstitutional and people like him will have to deal with it. It wasn’t too long ago that integration had to be forced.
Hardy, I have heard your arguements in opposition to hate crime legislation many times, over and over. Btw, you made your point with the first hypothetical example you cited. It really wasn’t necessary to add four more. This arguement completely misses the point of the goals of hate crime legislation. Is it, on the surface, fair to prosecute violent crimes differently depending on the race, gender or orientation of the victim? No, it is plain as day that it is not. However, in my view, the notion of hate crimes is a far more comprehensive big, long term picture than you care to realize. Sometimes, in a huge and varied society, statutes that attempt to protect those who may be victimized for no other reason than for who they are become necessary. If, slowly, over time, such laws eventually make it socially unacceptable to view certain people as less than human, or less than equal, deserving citizens, then in the long view, it is worth it. That a white male victim may see his attacker recieve say, 25 years imprisonment, while Somone who attacks a gay or trans individual for NO OTHER REASON but that they are who they are, recieves a harsher sentence is the price we pay to slowly, over time, attempt to change public and private perception. And really, it hasnt diminished the sentence the attacker of thecwhite male deservedly recieves. Look at the bigger picture. You may cry about this being some sort of social engineering, but it does work, slowly. Awareness and change take time. This is one tool to that end. As far as your notion, if I read you correctly, that somone may masquerade as LGBT in order to have their attacker charged with a hate crime, REALLY??? Give one example. If I am misreading what you are saying there, I apologise. Last point: unfortunately, there are still places in this country where violence against individuals for NO OTHER REASON ( I cannot stress that enough) will be prosecuted with far less enthusiasm than should be. Are you telling me that this should not be addressed? -Melissa
So what you are saying is a Transgender such as myself were to be in Okla. and a group of people beat the Hell out of me there would be nothing I could do about it and and other Transgender or gay or bi we have no rights in your state, this is a free country, not a dictatorship like you are trying to say here, we are all equal in this country, YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE IN ANY GOVERNMENT IN THIS COUNTRY, GO OVERSEAS AND BE WITH THOUGHS DICTATORS…………. That is where someone like you belongs.
And also you should be put in the gay comunity for two years and see how we live it’s just like you live, we have jobs, we have cars our blood flows red, just like yours does or any other American in this country, you are nothing but a jerk, you should have a gay person come up to you and give you a big wet kiss right on the mouth.
We have rights you know, this but acording to you we don’t, I don’t think you should have any rights here either.
We should come to your state and have a gay pride march every weekend for the next ten years and go right be your house and your family can see and yes this is with the gay pride flags to, you should read the constitution like the fifth amendment better yet for the jerk you are just throw it out and right a new one and then you cram it up your ass.