To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Observercast

A Filthy Exchange

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BY KEVIN ACERS

Asked during a Feb. 23 Town Hall meeting about the numerous bills pending in the state Legislature that target people who are LGBTQ, Oklahoma state Sen. Tom Woods, R-Westville, stated, “I represent a community that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma. We are a religious state and we are going to fight to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state – we are a moral state … I’m going to vote my values, and we don’t want that in the state of Oklahoma.”

In response to media reports of this hate speech, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat issued the following statement on Feb. 26:

“Senator Woods and I have spoken, and I made it clear that his remarks were reprehensible and inappropriate. I am of the belief that all people are image-bearers of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. His remarks were not in any way reflective of myself, the Senate Republican caucus, Senate leadership or the Senate overall. In my opinion, he had a serious lapse of judgment and it has distracted from the mission and good work we are attempting to advance on behalf of all Oklahomans.”

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Upon reading this, I emailed the following letter to Sen. Treat [cc’d to Sen. Woods as well as my own state senator]:

Dear Sen. Treat,
Thank you for your statement regarding the recent comments that Sen. Woods made at a TownHall meeting, in which he referred to sexual minorities in our state as “filth.”

I would like to encourage you to strongly consider serious consequences for Sen. Woods: his remarks are worthy of sanctions from the state Senate. At the very least, he should be removed from all committees and face an official censure motion. I would encourage any other punitive response that falls within the Senate rules.

In his comments, Sen. Woods glibly disparaged all sexual minorities, including those who are among his constituents. His LGBTQ+ constituents surely cannot feel he is representing their interests in the state Legislature. He made clear that he is not.

Also, Sen. Woods would benefit from some remedial education. He stated in his shameful comments last week that “we are a Christian state – we are a moral state.” Oklahoma is not a Christian state. The establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Oklahoma Constitution, make this clear. To claim that we are a Christian majority state would be demographically accurate. However, in our state and country, minorities have equal protections under the law.

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Further, Sen. Woods’ phrasing implies that to be Christian is to be moral, and to be moral is to be Christian. This is not truth; it is bias. We do not need a member of the state Senate publicly propagating this discriminatory bias and making legislative decisions on the basis of that discriminatory bias. Despite certain efforts, we are not a theocracy, and religious discrimination is against the law.

Finally, just as many, if not most, of Sen. Woods’ constituents presumably are Christian and moral-driven, so are many, if not most, LGBT+ Oklahomans. To say otherwise – to believe otherwise – is a demonstration of ignorance. For a state lawmaker, this level of ignorance demonstrates a lack of capacity to effectively do the job he was elected to do.

To use phrasing Sen. Woods may find resonant, frankly, Oklahomans do not deserve this kind of filth in the state Senate.

I appreciate your attention and respectfully request that Sen. Woods face harsh and tangible consequences in addition to your strongly worded statement for which, again, I thank you.

Kevin Acers Kevin is a third-generation educator living in Oklahoma City. In addition to being a former teacher, he is a school counselor’s spouse, a poet, and a recently retired social worker who advocates for sound education policy, human rights, addressing homelessness, and other social justice issues. He has been a board member of the ACLU of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and for several years was Oklahoma coordinator for Amnesty International. With other community leaders, he recently represented Oklahoma at a Communities-in-Action summit at the White House.

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Oklahoma Observer
Oklahoma Observer
Kevin Acers is a social worker, educator, and poet living in Oklahoma City. He is a former board member of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the ACLU of Oklahoma.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.