As I'm sure many of you've heard, many politicians have been continuously trying to smear their diluted opinions as law across the country, despite LGBTQ efforts in recent months. While the opinions I have of my own Oklahoma state representatives are less than fruitful, one apple seemed to fall a little harder and further from the tree. Rep. Sally Kern(R) proposed three bills promoting ideas of conversion therapy, denying same-sex marriage, and anti-gay rhetoric. Kern also attracted national media attention in 2008 after saying that homosexuals were a bigger threat to the country than terrorism. While all of this is terrible, I wanted to point out a few things that Oklahoma's lawmakers seem to be overlooking.
First of all, we could start with education. While 11 percent of Oklahomans ages 25 and over have stepped foot on a college campus, a staggering 26 percent of them do not even have a complete high school education. According to EPI, Oklahoma sleeps near the bottom of the school totem, ranking at number 36. Isn't that some cray? Hold on, it gets better guys.
If you think our school system is questionable as a student, try being a teacher. With nearly the lowest pay wages in the United States, Oklahoma has been failing to recruit, hire, and properly pay their teaching staffs. While the state is clearly struggling to clean up the education system, should it really be that concerned with the gays?
I felt it poignant to note that while religious freedom has every right to be exercised, at what cost must we exercise it? A particular piece of introduced legislation caught my eye, HB125, a bill introduced by Kern. If passed, it would restrict the salary of any clerk or judge who allowed a gay marriage. This ruling would also make it difficult for straight couples to wed, as it would take away the right for all marriages to be officiated by the county clerk. So in other words, she is literally willing to strip the rights of hardworking citizens in order to uphold her own religiously fueled agenda.
There are clearly a lot of issues with the state of Oklahoma, but ultimately it is my hope that lawmakers will one day prioritize their civilities. However, I walk away knowing one thing. The gay community has weathered history for thousands of years, and has existed before religions were created. As a gay, mixed, trans girl, I came out of the womb societally damned,according to most of my friends and family, yet I exist; I thrive. Lawmakers, you can continue with your petty jabs at my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, but know this: We don't need your validation to exist, we've been breaking your laws to exist for years, and all of your effort is a waste of time. I don't mean to sound insincere, but as '90s band Smash Mouth famously said, "Get your game on," because that's exactly what the gay community of Oklahoma is gearing up to do.
Oklahomans for Equality is already bulking up to combine efforts this week, as Equality Center director Toby Jenkins has already been making noise in the press. OKEQ also announced a town meeting to decide an appropriate response from the local gay community.