BY JAMES NIMMO
An open letter to Oklahoma lawmakers:
I’m hand-delivering this letter to your legislative office as I’m repeatedly told that personal letters from Oklahoma taxpayers get more attention from you and your staff than cookie-cutter communications.
I’m very concerned with the spate of anti-civil rights bills introduced this session that are directed at curtailing the constitutional civil rights of Oklahoma citizens who are gay or lesbian.
Rep. Sally Kern has introduced three such bills and withdrawn one of them but there are other bills from both representatives and senators intent on doing as much harm to employed and law-abiding taxpayers as possible.
I’m not afraid of Kern or anyone in her circle as individuals but I am afraid of the police power of these Jim Crow bills should they become law. There is no difference between the segregation directed at black Americans following the Civil War during Reconstruction and the same kind of segregation now directed at America’s gay and lesbian taxpayers.
I think Oklahoma has become a civil rights laboratory with many, if not most, of the Legislature playing the part of the mad scientists and we gay people are the lab rats, expected to run the judicial maze to get these laws overturned should the bills pass. Such legal action takes time and money. The money will be found but the time needed is priceless and unrecoverable as lives do not stop for courtroom confrontations.
People live, love, and die without consulting judicial calendars for permission to enjoy their citizenship that is theirs as an American birthright. Our tax money is gladly taken but we receive no representation in exchange.
The curse of religion is hidden in these bills and uncovered when the sponsors such as Kern are interviewed by the media, both in Oklahoma and across the country.
Don’t tell me this is freedom of speech and religion protected by the much praised-and-ignored-when-convenient First Amendment. These bills are plain ignorance first and last and I’ll have none of it.
If we respect out-and-out ignorance what does that say about our respect for undeniable truth? As someone has said, the earth is round, the sky is blue, the sun comes up in the east – there are facts in the world that are irreducible and cannot be refuted. Facts cannot be poll-tested. The existence of decent and law-abiding gay men and women is one of those irrefutable facts.
The nostalgia of some people for the 1950s is unshakable. I wish them godspeed as they journey back down Route 66 to the time of their youth when all seemed predictable, settled, categorized, all the sheets were white and starched, while their greatest fear was catching the summer-time polio virus.
Ignorance and bigotry are not ideals to strive for and I shall not respect for an instant those who hold to such slander.
– James Nimmo lives in Oklahoma City and is a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer