Oklahoma Run ‘n Gun organizers catch heat for controversial photo

Screen shot 2015-07-10 at 2.26.56 PMOrganizers of the Oklahoma Run ‘n Gun, a biathlon and shooting competition in Pawnee, Okla., ran into some trouble after posting a photo on social media showing two participants holding a rainbow flag as a target.

Event organizers posted the image to promote their July 18 competition. The photo showed two men holding rifles and a caption that reads “new high visibility targets on the 500 yard range.”

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson said many activists felt threatened by the post.

“People got really offended and really upset and people were really feeling threatened,” he told KFOR.

Stevenson says he reached out to event organizers after seeing the picture, who assured him it was a joke.

“He assures us that it wasn’t meant as a threat. It was a situation where I don’t think the people doing it understood social media or how bad their joke was,” Stevenson said.

The organizer said participants had trouble seeing the targets, so they simply chose the brightest target available. Unfortunately they chose a rainbow flag.

“You could definitely tell by reading the comments that they were trying to make a joke out of this. But once again, it was going way too far and offending a lot of people and it was very threatening language,” Stevenson said.

The post and their Facebook page have since been removed. A page criticizing the group, however, has appeared.

—  James Russell

Gay Uber drivers in Oklahoma will be able to kick straight people out of their cars

smalley_bio

Sen. Jason Smalley who isn’t gay. Really.

The Oklahoma Senate passed the “Oklahoma Transportation Network Company Services Act” that removed protection for passengers based on sexual orientation.

That will allow LGBT Uber drivers in the state to protect themselves from having to drive straight people to their destinations or take their money.

The House version of the bill prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I believe if a private business owner wants to serve or not serve an individual, they have that purview right now,” said Sen. Jason Smalley, the bill’s Senate sponsor, according to ABC News.

However, if Uber or Lyft drivers decided to take Oklahoma up on its generous offer to discriminate, they could lose their affiliation with those companies since both have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation.

—  David Taffet

Sally Kern withdraws anti-gay bill

KernSallyLoRes

Sally Kern

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, withdrew a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people, according to Tulsa World.

Her bill, “the Business Protection Act,” read:

“No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.”

She said the bill wouldn’t have done what she intended for it to do, and she’s right. Instead, it would have been declared unconstitutional and, in its ruling, any court would have said the law was based on animus and turned sexual orientation and gender identity into protected classes.

Oklahoma state Sen. Kay Floyd, a Democrat, who is lesbian, said, “This is great news. Your letters, emails, and calls are already making a difference. The sooner we defeat the rest of these divisive and unconstitutional bills, the sooner we can get back to working for everyday Oklahomans.”

Kern submitted two other anti-gay bills so far this session. One prevents taxpayer money and government salaries from licensing or supporting same-sex marriage. The other is called the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act.”

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma grants first same-sex divorce

oklahoma-marriageAs marriage equality spreads across the country, there’s a major lesson the gay and lesbian community needs to learn: Just because you CAN get married, doesn’t mean you SHOULD get married.

Although Oklahoma has had marriage equality for almost two months, it’s already had its first same-sex divorce. It’s not as bad as it sound, however.

Deanne and Julie Baker of Oklahoma City married in Iowa in 2012. They tried to divorce over the summer, but the Oklahoma court rejected their petition, because it didn’t recognize the marriage. Once marriage equality hit the state, the petition was accepted on Oct. 15 and the couple is divorced.

So remember, if you visit a marriage equality state to marry and you then consider divorce, Texas is neither a marriage equality state nor a divorce equality state. And a couple can only divorce in their home state, unless at least one of them establishes residency elsewhere.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma Supreme Court allows same-sex parents to seek custody

oklahoma-marriageThe Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled today (Wednesday, Nov. 12) that non-biological parents in a same-sex relationship can seek custody of children they raised based on an agreement to parent together.

The decision found there is no public policy in Oklahoma against a child having same-sex parents, and if a biological parent jointly conceives children with a non-biological parent and then raises those children together, she cannot deny the other parent the ability to seek custody or visitation based on their agreement.

“We applaud the Oklahoma Supreme Court for recognizing that when two parents raise a child together, both parents should be allowed to seek custody, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or biological ties,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Family Law Director Cathy Sakimura. “This decision recognizes that every child’s best interests must be protected when their parents break up, no matter what their family looks like.”

Julie Eldredge and Karen Taylor were in a long-term relationship and entered a civil union in New Zealand. They jointly decided to have two children through donor insemination, and they raised the children together for seven years until Karen, the biological mother, unilaterally cut off contact between Julie and the children. Julie sought shared custody of the children, but the trial court denied her petition for lack of standing.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Eldredge is able to seek custody based on the parties’ agreement to parent the children, so long as custody is in the best interests of the children. The court also noted that same-sex parents in Oklahoma may obtain second-parent adoptions, where the non-biological parent may adopt without terminating the biological parent’s rights, but that same-sex parents who do not adopt may still seek custody based on an agreement.

“The public policy of this state mandates that the district court consider the best interests of the children before they lose one of the only two parents they have ever known,” the court wrote in its ruling.

“The real winners here are the children, whose rights to have loving parents are protected,” said Melody Huckaby Rowlett, attorney for Eldredge.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: 10th Circuit says OK marriage ban is unconstitutional

Bs1h9tfCAAAgOOnA U.S. appeals court ruled today that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The 2-1 vote by the U.S. Tenth Circuit of Appeals affirmed U.S. Judge Terence Kern’s earlier decision in Bishop v. Smith.

The same three-judge panel also ruled earlier Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The court stayed its ruling however, pending an appeal by the state of Oklahoma.

The case is the oldest challenge to a same-sex marriage ban in the country.

Since the Supreme Court’s major gay rights decisions last year, 17 federal courts have ruled that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. More than 70 cases are pending in federal court including one in Texas, DeLeon v. Perry according to a press release from the Human Rights Campaign.

 

—  James Russell

Oklahoma is the next target in marriage campaign

Screen shot 2014-05-06 at 10.17.02 AMThe U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has already heard the appeal of a federal court’s ruling that Oklahoma’s marriage law is unconstitutional. The case was expedited by the court and a decision is expected soon.

Now, Freedom to Marry has helped finance a TV commercial running in Oklahoma appealing to fairness for all families. The ad features an Oklahoma lesbian couple who married in Massachusetts. They live with their three children and the parents of one of the women. Her dad is Ed Cuyler, a former army colonel.

“Here in Oklahoma, we value family,” Cuyler says.

“Marriage enhances our community and makes families stronger,” Mrs. Cuyler says.

—  David Taffet

Texas defies defense secretary’s order to register same-sex partners

Chuck Hagel

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

After Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered national guards in all states to register same-sex partners of military personnel for identification cards, three states including Texas continue to defy the federal government.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin responded by telling Hagel and President Barack Obama to “stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda.”

When the Department of Defense decided same-sex spouses would receive all of the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses in September, Texas refused to register same-sex partners and directed them to federal facilities. Eight other states followed Texas’ lead.

“Unfortunately, officials from at least three states, including Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia, have so far responded with open and blatant defiance of his [Hagel] order and have stated their intention to continue discriminating against gay and lesbian couples serving in the national guard,” said Stephen Peters, president of American Military Partner Association.

Oklahoma state Sen. Al McCaffrey was in Dallas over the weekend for the Black Tie Dinner. He suggested a way to get his state to comply was to threaten to pull equipment out of the state. While the National Guard is run by the state, most of the equipment it uses, including tanks, planes, guns and even the computer used to register military partners belongs to the federal government, he said.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma couples sue for marriage equality

Oklahoma couple suing for marriage equality

Oklahoma couple suing for marriage equality

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group, is defending the Tulsa County Clerk’s Office against a lawsuit involving marriage equality because a federal appeals court ruled the governor and attorney general have no standing.

Two lesbian couples from Oklahoma, including one married in California, challenged the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.

They believe the Defense of Marriage Act ruling bolsters their case. The case was filed in federal court in Tulsa in 2004 where it has been stalled. However, they are challenging the section of DOMA that still stands, allowing one state to refuse to recognize a marriage performed in another state.

Now that the DOMA ruling has been issued, attorneys for the couples are urging U.S. District Judge Terence Kern to rule in the case.

A number of cases are working their way through the courts. According to the blog Hunter of Justice, a Nevada and a Hawaii case are farthest along. In addition to the Oklahoma case, a Michigan and a North Carolina challenge to marriage bans are in federal courts. New cases have been filed in Virginia and Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey and New Mexico state courts.

And an Ohio judge ruled in July that the state must recognize a recent Maryland marriage on a death certificate.

A story on the Oklahoma couple on Oklahoma News 9:

—  David Taffet

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

The Bruce Wood Dance Project has three more performances of the choreographer’s new show at Booker T. Washington in the Arts District, including an encore of the first program, which debuted last night (with Gary Floyd providing beautiful vocals to the stunning new “I’m My Brother’s Keeper”). Wood is up to his old tricks: The technical beauty of classic ballet combined with the muscular physicality of modern dance plus Wood’s own unique contributions of humor and an emphasis on the potential of the male form. Don’t miss it — it ends this Sunday.

Also over this Sunday is Oklahoma! at Lyric Stage; don’t miss it, either (you have a busy weekend ahead of you!). As we’ve come to expect, director Cheryl Denson has crafted a massive and engaging piece of classic theater with a huge cast, full orchestra and dazzling sets. You have more time to see Jersey Boys at the Winspear Opera House — it’ll be around almost another month — but it’s just as unmissable.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones