A Republican state Senator warns LGBT people – but no one else – that they shouldn't have an expectation of being treated equally or fairly in his conservative state.
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Joseph Silk is working to protect people who have deeply held religious beliefs about gay people from having to actually have anything to do with them. The Oklahoma state Senator is sponsoring two decidedly anti-gay bills. One, the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2015, would allow anyone – including religious and secular businesses – to discriminate against LGBT people for any reasons, as long as they claim doing so would violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs." The other would bar same-sex couples, but allow different-sex couples, to enter into "covenant marriage," which makes it extremely difficult to later divorce.
Senator Silk's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a "get-out-of-jail-free card" for people who claim to be of faith, is so sweepingly broad it would allow any person or business – including non-profit or for-profit organizations – to refuse to provide services to anyone whose "sex, gender, or sexual orientation" offends those "sincerely held religious beliefs."
That means that if your religion directs you to treat women as not equal to men, the State of Oklahoma will support your actions. If your religion, or your interpretation of your religion, mandates you to hate the gays, don't worry, Oklahoma's got you covered.
The bill's scope is so broad it allows anyone to refuse to provide "any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges," or "counseling, adoption, foster care, and other social services" to anyone else – again, based on their "sincerely held religious beliefs."
It also allows anyone, including the State of Oklahoma, to refuse to acknowledge or recognize as valid any marriage or other domestic union.
Senator Silk would like folks to know that he's not anti-gay, just pro-faithful.
Silk told The New York Times in an article published today, that the "L.G.B.T. movement is the main thing, the primary thing that’s going to be challenging religious liberties and the freedom to live out religious convictions."
“They don’t have a right to be served in every single store,” said Sen. Silk. “People need to have the ability to refuse service if its violates their religious convictions.”
He added: “And I say that sensitively, because I have homosexual friends.”
Some responses via Twitter:
No one with homosexual friends says "I have homosexual friends."— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) March 5, 2015
How to determine a tool?"I have [insert minority group]friends.“@jonlovett: No one with homosexual friends says"I have homosexual friends."”— emine deniz (@eminedeniz) March 5, 2015
@jonlovett Maybe that's just what he calls his "Will & Grace" box set. "It's sort of like a homosexual 'Friends'."— Tim Carvell (@timcarvell) March 5, 2015
Oh, he has "homosexual friends." I guess that makes discrimination against them ok. https://t.co/nMIXYwEJZ6— Robert Worrell (@DCTiger78) March 5, 2015
I like how when people say something bad about the LGBT community they try to make it better by saying they have homosexual friends lol— Brooke Homer (@bhomes23) March 5, 2015
Yo, Senator #Silk of the great state of Oklahoma! Anyone who says they have "homosexual" friends, doesn't.— ManWithMartini (@ManWithMartini) March 5, 2015
Whenever a politician says they have "homosexual friends" I can't help but feel bad for them. They have less friends than they realize.— Sarah. (@sac12389) March 5, 2015
Silk is not the only Oklahoma lawmaker into attacking gays. Notorious state Rep. Sally Kern is pushing several anti-gay bill too.