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

Bigot of the Day: Sally Kern v. Justin Thompson

Sally Kern, left, and Justin Thompson

The competition for today’s honor is pretty intense, and in the end we couldn’t make up our minds. So we’re turning to you to decide this toss-up between the undisputed heavyweight bigot from up north, Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, and a fiery young challenger from the south, Texas A&M University student Justin Thompson.

Let’s start with the familiar Kern, who on Wednesday said that minorities earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and don’t have as much initiative, according to the Tulsa World. Kern made her comments during debate on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban affirmative action in state government.

“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school?” Kern said. “I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”

And now for the newcomer, Thompson, who penned a guest column for the Battallion, the student newspaper at Texas A&M, in support of a bill to slash funding for the school’s LGBT resource center. Here’s a snippet from Thompson’s column:

“I do not hate homosexuals; their lifestyle is offensive and against my beliefs. I feel the same about extramarital sex and similar actions common today.  All are a misuse of a gift from God. Sex is not about recreation or either of the two participants; it is about an attempt to create new life. Sex that has no possibility of conception is wrong because it deprives a person at a chance at life. Extramarital and homosexual sex is selfish and reprehensible because they put the participants first at the expense of the most vulnerable.  …

“I know that many have homosexual tendencies that may or may not be natural. Even if they are, that does not excuse acting them out. I can have innate feelings for a married woman, but that does not excuse adultery. We are not animals, dominated by instinct. We have free will and, to some extent, self-discipline. It is our instinct to sleep until the sun wakes us, but we set our alarms and go to class in the morning. We diet, exercise, take medicine and do a multitude of things that are against our instincts. Sometimes, doing the right thing takes effort and goes against what we want to do.  I sympathize with those fighting the temptation; I know it is a long, hard struggle.”

So, who should take home today’s Bigot of the Day prize? You decide, and let us know in the comments.

—  John Wright

Oklahoma man found dead after alleging police brutality outside gay bar in Tulsa

One of the photos Keith Kimmel had posted on his blog showing injuries he allegedly caused by police.
This is one of the photos Keith Kimmel posted on a blog showing injuries allegedly caused by police.

A gay Oklahoma man was found dead in a Norman apartment on Wednesday, two days after he filed a complaint alleging that police roughed him up outside a gay club in Tulsa.

Keith Kimmel, 28, made headlines a few months ago when he sued the Oklahoma Tax Commission for denying his application for a personalized license plate saying, “IMGAY.”

Authorities say Kimmel’s death is under investigation. The Tulsa World has the full story.

—  John Wright