Monday, December 1, 2008

Here we go again

Victor Hutchison, Oklahoma's evolution activist par excellence, emailed the latest edition of his OK Evolution newsletter today. It contains the news that Sally Kern is going to try to push her 'Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act' through the next session of the legislature again.

Unfortunately, she may succeed this time, given that both houses of the legislature are now under Republican control, making them veto-proof.

Here's what Vic says in his newsletter:
. . . Oklahoma moved even further to the right of the political spectrum with every county voting for the Republican candidate for President. For the first time in State history the Republicans now control both houses of the Legislature. In the past few years the Senate controlled by Democrats often was able to stop all but one of the bad bills that would have pushed religion into the public school curriculum. The one bill that did get through last year was Rep. Sally Kern's amendment to HB 2633 that would have established the 'Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act.'

This bill would have allowed the intrusion of religion into public schools, including creationism in science classes. Kern's original bill (HB 2211) was sent by the Senate leadership to the Rules Committee to die. However, on the Senate floor the amendment (modified somewhat from the original HB 2211) was moved. Before a vote could be taken, a non-debatable motion to move the original HB 2633 forward (thus stopping the amendment) was tied 24 to 24, strictly along partisan lines. The Lt. Governor, Jari Askins, could have broken the tie, but she was not called to do so. Thus the amended HB 2211 passed and went to the Governor.

Fortunately, Governor Henry vetoed the HB 2633. He could have waited a day and gotten a ''pocket vet' but decided to kill it outright, sending a strong message. Opposition to the original bill and the amended one was strong with Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education (OESE) playing a leading role. Press releases, messages, and statements to legislators and to the Governor came from many individuals and organizations, both State and National, including Oklahoma Academy of Science, Oklahoma Science Teachers Association, OESE, Tulsa and Oklahoma Interfaith Alliances, Oklahoma Mainstream Baptists, American Association for Advancement of Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (Oklahoma and National Office), National Association of Biology Teachers, and others. The main reasons the bill should have been defeated stated by these organizations were the same as those cited by the Governor in his veto message.

So, what can be expected this session? The Republican leadership has listed tort reform, changes in workers' compensation, and a 'pro-family agenda' as primary goals. Under the pro-family category we know what to expect – items on abortion, gay rights, religious initiatives such as Rep. Kerns' earlier bills with an antievolution, procreation slant that would further attack the separation of church and state.

Well, it has already happened. Oklahoma City Republican legislators Sally Kern and Mike Reynolds have filed House Bill 1001, 'Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act,' essentially the same bill with the same title that was vetoed by the Governor after the last session.

In the Kansas dust-up over creationism in their State School Board over the past few years, Governor Sebelius pointed out that the bad publicity for the State ('What's Wrong with Kansas' comes to mind) was hurting the recruitment of scientists and high-teach industry to the State. Presidents of Kansas public colleges also came out to warn of the dangers. This point should be emphasized to legislators in Oklahoma.

All the individuals and organizations that have risen to the challenge in the past to stop the religious based attacks on good science in public schools will need to mobilize again, but with a stronger effort. We will post information on bills as they are introduced and proceed through the legislative process. Remember, NUMBERS DO COUNT in influencing actions on legislative bills. Individuals can have an impact.
Looks like those of us who care about Reason in Oklahoma have our work cut out for us.

1 comment:

  1. Homo-Hater's Hubby Gets
    Outed in Phone Call--
    Gay Men Need "Education Programs"

    Mayor and Public Library Commission
    Going on the Homo-Hating Warpath?

    by James Nimmo

    (OKLAHOMA CITY) The anti-gay forces of the Oklahoma GOPer Party and their religious fundie faction are making plans to further suppress the civil rights of Oklahoma's gay and lesbian taxpayers.

    Having knocked out our marriage options with State Question 711 in 2004, that outlaws same gender marriage as well as straight common law marriages, next on their revenge agenda is taking over the Oklahoma County Metro Public Library System ( by packing the 28-member board ( with religious extremists who, caring nothing for the Constitution, believe that their private religious practices should be followed in selecting and maintaining the public library system's collection of books.

    This is not the first time Oklahoma County library services have been targeted as easy pickings for the politically challenged. Remember the Tin Drum video seizure ( and Rep Sally Kern's first foray into the public light of day (

    An Oklahoma City-based gay/lesbian news website ( has made public that Mayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma City is planning to pack the public library Commission of Oklahoma County with more of his favorite fundie friends in order to prove to ultra conservative Oklahoma voters and out-of-state contributors that the Ten Commandments is his Constitution, and not the one on display in the National Archives, when he announces his run for governor of Oklahoma in the near future.

    The civil rights of gay and lesbian taxpayers as well as the tax money of all the County's citizens must be subverted to further the political shenanigans of a repressive, regressive snake-oil salesman.

    Let me suggest that the word "public" has a different meaning to religious fundies than it does to you and me. As we've seen in the eight years of the Bush Administration, words are given a facade of meaning which disguises the true purpose the words will effect. Words for them are wolves in sheep's clothing, a shell game of meaning.

    The article at ( on the Gossip Boy website has just been posted and reveals much that I've suspected was going on behind the cloak of righteousness that deeply deranged religious people like to wear.

    Among some of the blockbuster revelations in the article are Steve Kern's remarks, husband of infamous YouTube Queen and gun slinger Rep.Sally Kern (, that have been transcribed from a phone call wherein he uses derogatory language about gay men, thinking he's talking to one of his brothers-in-Christ. Steve Kern says gay men should be forced by law to go to "education programs".

    As you recover from that breath-taking idea don't even think of using the "Nazi" word; instead use a new comparison--Pol Pot of Cambodia.

    Just what would the syllabus of this "education program" contain? Anatomical drawings of humans in various states of arousal used for stimulus in shock therapy and aversion demonstrations?

    Would Ted Haggard be brought in for a power point presentation?

    What would be the final "exam" (final solution?) to this "education program"? Doses of Viagra administered to the "students" with naked, supine, voluptuous women brought in to make sure the men have learned their "lessons"?

    Who would do the "grading"? Steve Kern? Sally Kern? Would there be a grading curve? Would re-testing be allowed? Just what would be considered failure?

    The Gossip Boy ( article is excellent and reviews the background people will need to know who have either forgotten, are new to the situation, or are just now getting involved in the issues of religiously propelled suppression of civil rights. I've been a 16-year observer of the Oklahoma County Library Commission and this is exactly the article I wish I could have written. Though I had no hand in its writing I will vouch for the accuracy of the background material provided.

    This year the Oklahoma Legislature is dominated by a GOPer majority in both Houses for the first time in state history. There is now no parliamentary way for bills injurious to civil equality to be killed in committee by a friendly Democratic chair.

    I don't see any assistance on the horizon; it's going to be all our fight, sink or swim.

    We gays and lesbians are in for a tough ride in Oklahoma that will test the resolve of our commitment and the strength of our character to ensure our birth right as American citizens.