Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: January 28, 2015
Sen. Corey Brooks
In response to October’s Supreme Court’s
decision to allow lower court rulings against Oklahoma’s ban
on same sex marriage to stand, Sen. Corey Brooks has filed legislation
to protect the rights of individuals and religious entities who
provide marital services within the state. Senate Bill 478 would
create the Protection of Religious Freedom in the Sanctity of Marriage
Act of 2015.
“The U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts are legislating from
the bench and stepping on the rights of Oklahomans who overwhelmingly
voted against legalizing gay marriage in 2004,” said Brooks,
R-Washington. “Nevertheless, while this issue continues to
make its way through the federal court system, gay marriage is now
legal in this state. This bill is simply an effort to protect the
rights of individuals, specifically members of the clergy, churches,
judges, and court clerk personnel, who are morally opposed to this
practice, from being forced to participate in it through issuing
marital documents or presiding over such marital ceremonies.”
SB 478 would prohibit the government from requiring any individual
or religious entity, if it is against their deeply held religious
beliefs regarding sex or gender, to provide services, accommodations,
facilities, goods or privileges related to conducting any marriage,
domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement or to have
to solemnize such an event.
The bill would also protect these individuals and religious entities
* a civil claim or cause of action under state or local law based
on such refusal
* an action by any governmental entity to penalize, withhold benefits
against or otherwise disadvantage any protected individual or religious
entity under any
state or local law.
The measure also instructs that any person who has authority to
take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel
action may not take any personnel disciplinary action against any
employee who invokes protections under this bill. However, should
an individual employed by a governmental or other nonreligious entity
invoke protections under this bill and refuse to provide a service
that is part of the entity’s duties or policies, the individual’s
employer must promptly provide another employee or official to provide
the service, if it can be done without undue hardship to the employer.
“This bill is in no way meant to be mean-spirited or hateful.
It’s designed simply to codify and clarify that Oklahomans
value individual religious freedoms and will do what’s necessary
to protect them, for the good of all,” said Brooks. “Last
September, few people would have predicted this federal court decision.
Oklahomans who entered into state service as judges, justices and
clerks in recent years would have never imagined having to perform
gay marriages as part of their official duties. This bill provides
protections for those who find such unions morally objectionable
so they don’t have to choose between their job and their religious
convictions. The same concept applies to the pastors, clergy and
churches in Oklahoma who find this practice contrary to their longstanding
If approved, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2015.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Brooks: (405) 521-5522