Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Oklahoma: Atheists and Gays Not Welcome.

There's some outrageous bigotry going on in Oklahoma, but that's no surprise.

A stone monument depicting the Ten Commandments
sits outside the Oklahoma State Capitol Building.

House Bill 1125, which essentially bans atheists from being married, recently passed the Oklahoma State House of Representatives. It is now headed to the Senate, where it will most likely be approved.

How does it work? Well, it's like this. For any new marriage to be recognized, a member of the clergy must approve any and all marriage licenses. Judges and magistrates would have ZERO say in the matter. That means that the power of the legally binding contract of marriage would be solely under the discretion of priests and other respective church leaders. Of course, conservatives, Republicans and religious organizations are jumping for joy over this bill. If approved, it would mean that any clergy member whom did not see fit to wed a couple (meaning homosexuals and atheists) would not have to.

This is a crafty work of legalese meant to circumvent the potential for homosexuals to receive the same marriage benefits as heterosexual couples. They're essentially tacking it onto the backs of atheists as a way around any forthcoming federal legislation. In essence, they get to kill two birds with one stone.

One of the chief supporters of the bill, Republican Dennis Johnson, has been quoted as saying...
"Marriage was not instituted by government. It was instituted by God. There is no reason for Oklahoma or any state to be involved in marriage."
I find it ironic that Mr. Johnson wants to prohibit the bounds of marriage via legislation, but finds that government has no place in the matter. I wonder if he can see the total hypocrisy in that? Have the supporters of this bill even considered that, without a legally binding marriage license, many couples (gay or straight, religious or atheist) would lose health benefits, death benefits, access to community property and child custody? Obviously not.

Perhaps more troubling is the immense power that would be granted to non-elected religious officials whom would act as de facto magistrates of the state government. By officiating the state law in a method that's clearly filtered through religious doctrine, they'd be blatantly violating the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Should House Bill 1125 be passed by the Oklahoma legislature, it will surely make its way to the Supreme Court.

Oklahoma -- a great place to live... unless you're not a heterosexual Christian.

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