House on Fire

Thuy Newborne

Nov. 17, 2018.

A simple bill from an OU delegate, Representative Sarah Bong,regarding non-discrimination in the work force place for LGBTQ+ had several delegations concerned for their First Amendment. Without heist as soon as the bill hit the floor sets afire in the House Chamber, and the House was divided on moral/ethics arguments. The piece of legislation was underfired by the conventional and typical House members that followed up their disapproval of the bill with an amendment that allows “religious institution the autonomy of their religion” to turn away those not affiliated within those institute standards. Questions after questions hurled its way towards the author of the amendment (Elijah Bowers), but unfortunately and ultimately, the amendment failed with a vote of twenty-one (21)in favor and thirty-one (31) against. A debate against this bill has been called by the body and emotions/tensions are high.

The proponent in the debate seeks understanding from the body of their daily struggles; while the opponent argued for their religious rights.

From the opponent, Representatives in the debate said things such as; “This bill promote sexual harassments” and “A vote for this bill is a vote for sexual assaults.” These argument about the bill sparked a fire to the proponent side as they got up to speakas well. The Proponent is simply asking the body to allow LGBTQ+ to work at jobs without being discriminated by their colleagues. This bill introduces a safe and tolerant work environment. The author’s final comment to the body regarding her bill was that “As an openly bisexual woman, I am well aware of the lack of protections LGBTQ+ people have in the workplace. Though I have had generally tolerant employers in the past, many of us aren’t as lucky. My bill sought to end the discrimination of LGBTQ+ Oklahomans within the workplace, a precedent set by the 6th District Court of Appeals. The argument of religious freedom significantly impacted the discussions on the floor, as I did not leave room for religious exemptions.” The author negated that simply with “I think religion is a beautiful thing that generally seeks to bring love and peace into this world, so I do not consider my bill anti-religion. I simply want an Oklahoma where employees are considered based on their merit and skillsets, not based on who they are or who they love. I was proud of the House tonight for working toward that future tonight.” The bill pulled through the House with a “yes” from majority of the body and same for the Senate.