In an attempt to circumvent the ability of LGBT persons to marry, a member of the Oklahoma GOP has introduced a bill in the State Legislature which limits the marriage to persons of the Jewish or Christian faith only. As written, house bill 1125 solely awards a marriage certificate to those persons who have enlisted a priest, rabbi, minister, or an ecclesiastical dignitary presiding. The bill therefore denies the ability for secular marriage officiants to perform the ceremony.
State Representative Todd Russ (R-OK) submitted the bill last tuesday. Russ has stated that his intention in writing and introducing the legislation was to relieve court clerks of the responsibility of performing homosexual marriage ceremonies. The fact that this would deny people of other faiths as well as non-believers from having marriage ceremonies does not concern Russ, he states that if “…they don’t have a spiritual basis for a marriage and don’t want to have a clergy member or a priest or someone involved in the spiritual aspect, then they can file an affidavit of common-law marriage.”
The constitutionality of the law not withstanding, it is unfortunate how callous and unconcerned Re. Russ is with the rights of non-christians. We can only hope that the GOP in Oklahoma resists this sentiment.
The christian right has exerted its political influence in new and substantial ways in Oklahoma, and we can only hope that the courts will concern themselves with the constitutionality of the law in question.