Oklahoma lawmaker wants 'no gays allowed' signs in Christian businesses

by Will Hall, |
Oklahoma Representatives Emily Virgin (Democrat) and Chuck Strohm (Republican).

OKLAHOMA CITY (Christian Examiner) -- A liberal Oklahoma Democrat is attempting to derail a bill meant to defend Christian business owners from lawsuits aimed at forcing them to provide services to gay weddings -- and is proposing businesses with religious objections be required to post a sign essentially saying "we discriminate."

An amendment drafted by Oklahoma State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, says Christian business owners must "post notice" of any company or personal policy of not providing wedding services on the basis of "sexual orientation, gender identity or race."

The original bill, H.B. 1371, known as the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, was submitted by state Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks and included protections against frivolous court claims intended to harass a business because of the owner's exercise of personal religious liberties. It also examines whether a lawsuit at its heart is meant to result in the "extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law" particularly as it relates to forcing "any person to participate in any marriage ceremony, celebration, or other related activity or to provide items or services for such purposes against the person's religious beliefs."

The issue has become a hot topic in recent months with highly publicized accounts of bakers, florists and photographers being sued, not for failing to provide services to homosexual individuals or couples, but for declining to perform work on a gay wedding because such participation would violate religious beliefs about the sanctity of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Virgin's bill would make mandatory the posting of a notice "clearly visible to the public ... including websites" that would specifically state "which couples the business does not serve" but allows that the notice may include wording that "may refer to the person's religious beliefs."

The Democrat reported on her Facebook page that her efforts apparently killed Strohm's bill "for this session" – after House leadership failed to take up Strohm's bill for discussion.

However, according to House procedures the legislation could be added to another bill if Strohm wanted to try again this year.