Oklahoma lawmaker seeks to ban gays from serving openly in state’s National Guard

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City

An Oklahoma state legislator has introduced a bill that would effectively reinstate “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the state’s National Guard troops. State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, told the Tulsa World that he filed the bill in response to requests from members of the Oklahoma National Guard:

Reynolds’ bill would amend the existing state law that allows any able-bodied U.S. citizen or person who has declared intentions of becoming a citizen and who is at least 18 years old and not yet 70 to serve in the Guard.

The amendment would prohibit anyone who was ineligible to serve in the U.S. armed forces under federal regulations that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2009, from serving in the Guard.

Reynolds said the state is allowed to set its own standards for service in the National Guard and is not required to duplicate standards for the rest of the U.S. military.

ThinkProgress notes that Reynolds was an endorser of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s August prayer rally, the Response, and also is a supporter of anti-gay Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern:

Last year, Reynolds endorsed the Response, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s controversial public prayer event, which was organized and attended by a who’s-who of anti-gay leaders. “I am encouraging Oklahomans to join with thousands of other Christians from around the nation in participating in this event. Go and show your support of public prayer,” Reynolds told the Pauls Valley Democrat in July.

A supporter of state Rep. Sally Kern’s (R) “Oklahoma Citizens Proclamation for Morality,” Reynolds has also spoken out against so-called “homosexual activists” after a gay minister recognized a same-sex couple in the gallery during an opening prayer.

Lawmakers in Virginia have also tried to reinstate DADT for the state’s National Guard, but the bill died in committee.

On the presidential campaign trail, Perry has repeatedly touted that fact that as governor, he serves as commander in chief for Texas’ 20,000 National Guard troops. Perry has also said he wants to reinstate DADT. So it’s unclear why Perry hasn’t proposed similar legislation in Texas.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign and The Equality Network of Oklahoma have put out a joint statement responding to Reynolds’ bill. Read it after the jump. Also, HRC has launched a petition which you can sign by going here.

—  John Wright