Oklahoma Governor Says 10 Commandments Monument Can Stay

Photo Source: Oklahoma Governor's office. File Photo.

Photo Source: Oklahoma Governor’s office. File Photo.

Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin has decided that the 10 Commandments Monument can stay on state capitol grounds.

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently ruled that the monument violates the Oklahoma State Constitution.  They made this ruling despite the fact that the United States Supreme Court has ruled that a similar monument in Texas does not violate the Constitution of the United States of America.

The reaction from legislators was predictable, with calls to impeach the Supreme Court members who voted against the monument, and development of legislation to let the people of Oklahoma vote on whether or not to remove the verbiage from the Oklahoma Constitution on which the ruling was made. Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, and now Governor Mary Fallin has announced that the monument can stay, pending this appeal.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Resistance to the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been growing in the Oklahoma legislature for quite a while. This legislature, unlike Congress, is not a paper tiger. It can and does legislate. It overturns vetoes and deep-sixes executive proposals on a regular basis. It also goes off and passes laws on its own.

Several bills reforming the nomination process for the judiciary have been considered in the past few years. I would not be surprised is this recent ruling gives them a fresh life.

From the Washington Post:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) said that the state’s controversial Ten Commandments statue is staying put despite a state Supreme Court ruling ordering it to be taken off the statehouse grounds.

The state’s highest court handed down a broad 7-2 decision last week, which found that the monument violated the state’s constitution.

In statements issued Tuesday, Fallin defended the statue and said that “the court got it wrong.” She added that the statue will remain in place while the state appeals the court’s decision and the legislature considers changes to the constitution.

“Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions,” Fallin said. “However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.”

“At this time, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, with my support, has filed a petition requesting a rehearing of the Ten Commandments case. Additionally, our Legislature has signaled its support for pursuing changes to our state Constitution that will make it clear the Ten Commandments monument is legally permissible,” she added. “If legislative efforts are successful, the people of Oklahoma will get to vote on the issue.”

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Oklahoma’s Supreme Court Orders 10 Commandments Plaque Removed from Capitol Grounds.

oklahoma-state-sealOklahoma’s State Supreme Court has ordered the removal of a 10 Commandments monument that was commissioned statutorily by the Oklahoma legislature from state capitol grounds.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt argued that the monument was nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the United State Supreme Court. The court ruled that the monument violated the Oklahoma Constitution, rather than the United States’ Constitution.

The Attorney General is considering what other options he might have in this case. among those options are amending the Oklahoma Constitution in the next legislative session. Here is the AG’s statement:

“Quite simply, the Oklahoma Supreme Court got it wrong. The court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law. Furthermore, the court’s incorrect interpretation of Article 2, Section 5 contradicts previous rulings of the court. In response, my office will file a petition with the court for a rehearing in light of the broader implications of this ruling on other areas of state law. Additionally, we are requesting a stay of the enforcement of the court’s order until the court can consider the petition for rehearing. Finally, if Article 2, Section 5 is going to be construed in such a manner by the court, it will be necessary to repeal it.”

Also from KOCO.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —A Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds is a religious symbol and must be removed because it violates the state’s constitutional ban on using public property to benefit a religion, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The court said the Ten Commandments chiseled into the 6-foot-tall granite monument, which was privately funded by a Republican legislator, are “obviously religious in nature and are an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.”

The 7-2 ruling overturns a decision by a district court judge who determined the monument could stay. It prompted calls by a handful of Republican lawmakers for impeachment of the justices who said the monument must be removed.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt had argued that the monument was historical in nature and nearly identical to a Texas monument that was found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Oklahoma justices said the local monument violated the state’s constitution, not the U.S. Constitution. The Attorney General Office’s has filed for a rehearing in the case.

Private funds were used to erect the monument in 2012. Since then, others have asked for space, including a Nevada Hindu leader, animal rights advocates, the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and a group pushing for a Satan statue.

 

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Purple Prose Aside, Oklahoma Did Not Limit Marriage to People of Faith

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

Rep Todd Russ, Oklahoma House File Photo

My former colleague, Representative Todd Russ, recently passed a piece of legislation, HB 1125 that would move issuance of Oklahoma marriage licenses from court clerks to clergy or judges.

Under Oklahoma law as it presently stands, court clerks, who are elected officials, issue marriage licenses.

I think that the bill is a response to lawsuits against court clerks around the country who have not issued marriage licenses for gay marriage due to their religious belief. It appears to be an attempt to remove that pressure from court clerks. According to both the author and representatives who opposed the bill, court clerks have not objected to the legislation.

During floor debate, Democratic Leader Scott Inman raised the question of whether or not the bill would, as an unintended consequence, open the door for “marriage” of any type, including group marriage, polygamy, marriage between humans and animals, etc. Rep Russ answered that HB 1125 does not change regulations as to what constitutes legal marriage.

I think that Representative Russ made an attempt to deal with a problem. I don’t think that this piece of legislation does what he hopes. It has huge holes in it. It also transfers the potential for court challenges and judicial pressure from court clerks to the clergy.

There is no definition of clergy in the bill. This piece of legislation, by creating a whole new legal responsibility for clergy, needs a definition for what constitutes clergy that is specific to the legislation.

As it stands now, the only requirement in the law is that the clergy be “ordained.” That leaves the definition of what constitutes clergy for the purposes of performing this government function entirely in the hands of the religious body of which they are a part.

Since “ordained” is not defined in the bill either, any person could, for the purposes of this law, “ordain” themselves. I am aware that there are definitions in other places in the statutes. But since this creates a new kind of clergy that is part government functionary and part religious leader, a new definition is called for.

Another serious problem with the legislation is that it does not define what relationship the clergy would hold vis a vis the government. Are they now government officials, rather than clergy? That is a legitimate question, since they are now charged with enforcing state law concerning marriage so far as it pertains to the issuance of marriage licenses.

America has kept the issuance of marriage licenses and the definition of marriage as a legal construct entirely under the auspices of the government for over 200 years. The idea of transferring this to clergy is a radical change with many unintended consequences.

One unintended consequence would be the massive impact that this change would have on arguments concerning religious freedom. I believe strongly that clergy should not be government officials by virtue of their ordination. If we make them that, we also make them subject to the same oversight and control as any other government functionary.

Statutes that make all ordained clergy function as government opens clergy and faith to government regulation. It transfer the court challenges and pressure being brought against court clerks to clergy. It pierces the protected legal status that clergy holds now.

This legislation, which I think is a good-faith attempt to deal with a serious problem, will, in a few years, create other problems concerning attempts to limit religious freedom that will be exceedingly grave. It has the potential to create a religious freedom train wreck.

HB 1125 has been the object of quite a bit of purple prose, both in the mainstream press and in the blogosphere. This includes claims that Oklahoma has done away with marriage licenses, or that the bill would limit marriage to people of faith. 

These claims are not accurate. The bill changes how marriage licenses are issued. It does not do away with them. Any one who wants to get legally married in Oklahoma today would be able to get legally married under this bill if it becomes law.

I’m not sure how to handle the problems we are now facing as a result of the nihilism that is being applied to family law in this country. If I was still a legislator, I would have voted against this particular bill for the reasons I give above.

My greatest concern about the bill is that it would change the legal status of clergy and that would create the means for successfully attacking religious freedom in the future. It does not matter if the bill labels clergy government functionaries or not. If this bill becomes law, that is the function they will be performing.

I have no doubt that future civil challenges would use this law to seek to define clergy as government functionaries through the courts. This law creates a means by which clergy can be subjected to government regulation as civil authorities.

In today’s political climate, that would be a disaster for religious freedom in this country. Groups have been attempting to control what clergy preaches for decades. This law hands them the means to do that. It would also open the doorway for legitimate court challenges requiring clergy to perform gay marriages (and other inventive forms of “marriage”) even if it violates the teachings of their faith.

You can read the version of the bill that passed the House here.

 

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Money Talks, Facts Walk in Oklahoma’s Three Horse Economy.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Oklahoma has a three-horse economy. Here it is in three words:

Agriculture.

Military bases.

Oil.

If you closed down those military bases and lowered the price of crude, Oklahoma’s three horse economy would dry up and blow away like a tumbleweed, bouncing before the wind.

Oklahoma has been riding the crest of an oil boom for years now. This has led to policy decisions at the capitol which will be disastrous for Oklahoma’s people in the long run. The reason they will be disastrous is that these decisions were based on the fantasy that Oklahoma’s current prosperity is a reflection of the genius of lawmakers and their half-brained policy decisions rather than the price of the black gold that comes out of Oklahoma’s red dirt.

Okies don’t like things that hurt the oil industry because the oil industry is the plate that everyone in the state feeds off of in one way or another. Not everyone is black gold rich. But just about every paycheck that gets cashed is related in some way to agriculture, military bases or oil.

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The dumbest dog in the kennel knows that.

That’s the reason why the Oklahoma State Geological Survey has been oh-so-quiet about the cause of all those confounding earthquakes that have been shake-rattle-and-rolling the state in recent years. There’s a link between the broken glass from those quakes and the hand that feeds us. In fact, it appears that the hand that feeds us is also the hand that is rocking the earth we stand on.

There seems to be a link between all these Okie earthquakes and fracking. Fracking is a practice of the oil industry, one that makes it more profitable and that adds $$$ to Oklahoma’s money bins, both private and public. We’ve got an oil boom and an earthquake boom and it appears that one of them is causing the other. It also seems that the industry that puts food on our collective table and jingle-jangle in our pockets is rocking and rolling the foundations on which our homes are built.

I’ve read concerns that all these little quakes are building up to a big boy that will really do damage. If that happens, Oklahoma will be in the national news again. It seems that we never get noticed unless we are bombed, beheaded or blown away. If we end up rubble-ized by an earthquake shakedown, I imagine we’ll get noticed again.

A couple of years ago after one of our killer tornadoes, the national media wondered why Okies don’t build more storm shelters. They raised the legitimate question as to why we don’t have storm shelters in our schools. The legislature was unable to address these significant concerns that relate to the public health and safety because of pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, who, as anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma politics is aware, runs Oklahoma state government.

Now, it appears that somebody (any guesses who???) has been deep-sixing scientific data linking our earthquake boom (pun intended) to our oilies. I don’t need a psychic to know who’s going to win this argument.

When you’ve got a three-horse economy, you don’t shoot one of the horses.

From Newsweek:

For years, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) avoided acknowledging that Oklahoma’s dramatic increase in earthquakes had anything to do with the oil and gas industry, even while federal scientists fully acknowledged the link.

According to new reporting from EnergyWire, OGS’s reluctance to point fingers may have been due to the industry itself.

In 2012, U.S. Geological Survey officials said that a step in the hydraulic fracturing process—the disposal of vast volumes of salty, chemical-laced wastewater by injecting it deep into the ground—was related to the massive spike in Oklahoma earthquakes. OGS, however, responded by criticizing their “rush to judgment.”

“Since early 2010 we have recognized the potential for the Jones earthquake swarm to be due to the Hunton dewatering [oil and gas project],” Austin Holland, an OGS seismologist wrote to USGS science adviser Bill Leith in 2013, according to documents obtained by EnergyWire. “But until we can demonstrate that scientifically or not we were not going to discuss that publicly.”

According to EnergyWire, Holland was called into meetings with his boss, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and oil executives, to discuss the link.

From StateImpact:

Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.

For this and other interviews, State Seismologist Austin Holland acknowledges “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but told reporter Mike Soraghan it never affected his scientific findings:

But Holland and OGS have been the voice of skepticism in the scientific community about connections between oil production activities and the hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the state.

From grist:

Oklahoma has been experiencing an earthquake boom in recent years. In 2014, the state had 585 quakes of at least magnitude 3. Up through 2008, it averaged only three quakes of that strength each year. Something odd is happening.

But scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey have downplayed a possible connection between increasing fracking in the state and the increasing number of tremors. Even as other states (Ohio, for example) quickly put two and two together and shut down some drilling operations that were to blame, OGS scientists said that more research was needed before their state took similar steps.

Now, though, emails obtained by EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan reveal that the University of Oklahoma and its oil industry funders were putting pressure on OGS scientists to downplay the connection between earthquakes and the injection of fracking wastewater underground. In 2013, a preliminary OGS report noted possible correlation between the two, and OGS signed on to a statement by the U.S. Geological Survey that also noted such linkages.

 

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Rep Kern Gets Ban on Bans of Gay Conversion Therapy Out of Committee

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Representative Sally Kern got her bill banning bans on gay conversion therapy out of committee.

HB 1598 passed without debate on a unanimous vote after a committee substitute was accepted, also on a unanimous vote.

It now goes to the full House, where it may or may not come to a vote. For an explanation of the process, go here.

If it does come to a vote, we may get to see some entertaining debate.

From The Daily Oklahoman:

A bill that seeks to protect the practice of gay conversion counseling passed out of an Oklahoma House committee Tuesday.

House Bill 1598, which now goes to the full House, says the state will not prohibit or restrict counseling intended to rid people of attraction to those of their own gender. It also seeks to protect parents who want such counseling for their children.

Nothing prevents this type of counseling now, but Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said her bill is needed because the practice is under attack legislatively in other states.

“All across the nation, bills are being introduced to ban parents from having the right to take their children for counseling if they are struggling with same-sex attractions,” Kern said. “As you know, we do lots of bills that are pre-emptive, so this is pre-emptive to make sure that parental rights are upheld.”

Gay rights advocates and others vehemently opposed the bill, saying conversion therapy has been harmful to children, including leading to anxiety, depression, shame, guilt and, potentially, drug abuse and suicide.

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Okies Receive This Much Snow …

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved. 

… and IT’S A SNOW DAY!!!

The school’s are closed, hubby is home from work and we’re cooking a turkey.

You Yankees don’t know the first thing about how to do cold weather.

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Group Raises Funds to Open Abortion Clinic in Oklahoma.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by kambodza https://www.flickr.com/photos/49507393@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by kambodza https://www.flickr.com/photos/49507393@N08/

Somebody, somewhere decided that Oklahoma is “underserved” by abortionists.

That’s what they think the women of Oklahoma need: More abortionists.

Personally, I can think of a whole slate of things the women of Oklahoma need more than they need another abortionist. I know a lot of Oklahoma women who’ve had abortions. Wish they hadn’t, but they did. Not one of them — not one — had any problem obtaining an abortion because of a lack of abortionists.

However, Trust Women, a group that may or may not open clinics around the country, has targeted Oklahoma for a fund-raising drive to open another abortion clinic. I’m honestly not sure how legit this organization is. They may be everything they say they are. I just don’t know.

How many clinics have they actually opened? That’s a good starter question for people to ask before donating money to them.

According to their web site, they are “partnering” with the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood of Central OK, Ok Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and are the Cofounder of Take Root at Oklahoma University.

Planned Parenthood has deep pockets. They also have a network that is wired in to community organizations such as the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and other public decision makers and influencers.

However, in terms of numbers, these organizations are like a small, highly incestuous, family. Their strength is in networking and organizing, not numbers.

I find this whole thing a bit disgusting. Not only does this attack on life disgust me, but I am a feminist and it disgusts me that this is what feminism has devolved down to. It wouldn’t take half a brain to see that what the women of Oklahoma need is something a lot different from more abortionists.

Time will tell if this group is just talk or if there’s beef in the sandwich. One thing I’m already sure of: They aren’t doing work that addresses the real needs of Oklahoma women.

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Suspect Arrested for Driving Car into Oklahoma Ten Commandment Monument

2D9882938-131208-ten-commandments-hmed-427p.nbcnews-ux-640-480.jpgLaw enforcement has arrested a man who allegedly drove his vehicle into the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma state Capitol grounds last night.

The monument has been the subject of attacks from all over the country, including court challenges and an attempt by satanists to place a statue of satan beside it.

According to KOCO.com, someone drove their car into the monument at around 9pm Thursday, smashing the monument to pieces. They then left their car at the site. The suspect in custody has evidently confessed to doing this.

He also is said to have told law enforcement officials that he urinated on the Ten Commandments Monument before running into it with his vehicle. He says that “Satan told him to do it.

The suspect also reportedly spit on a photo of President Obama and said that he would kill our President.

The Oklahoma ACLU has issued a statement saying that they are “outraged” by the incident.

From KOCO.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY —The Secret Service has arrested an individual for allegedly driving into the Ten Commandments monument near the State Capitol building.

Officials say someone drove their car into monument Thursday night, smashing it to pieces. The suspect reportedly made vague threats at the Oklahoma City Federal Building today and was taken into custody. His name has not yet been released.

The suspect said Satan told him to do it, Secret Service officials said. He also reportedly said he would kill President Obama and spit on a photo of Obama. The suspect also allegedly admitted that he urinated on the Ten Commandments monument before running it over.

 

 

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The Crazy People File

 

Note: I published this post a few years’ back. It seemed apt to republish it today. 

 

“Crazy People”

The folder with this name sits on my hard drive.

Whenever I get an email that merits the title, I drag it into the “Crazy People” file. After 16 years in public office, the file has swollen to gigs of nutty emails that most likely would embarrass their senders if they read them today.

I have a theory that people don’t know how they sound in the emails they send to elected officials. They forget that other people are on the opposite end of these nasty diatribes; that they read them, react to them and file them away.

Several years ago, members of the Oklahoma House were spending what seemed like an endless day on the House floor. We were hearing one bill after another. Since it was close to the end of session, we’d voted on all these bills many times before; in committee, in the full House the first time, then again in the full House when they came back from the Senate, and now, in the full House again after they came out of conference committee.

We spend a lot of time together in the House of Representatives, kind of like people locked on a ship that’s adrift at sea. We’d heard each other’s speeches on these bills until we could all recite them together.

On that day, we were tired, over-stimulated and stressed; all combined with an almost numbing boredom. It gets like that late in every legislative session.

Mainly due to the boredom, we started talking about the emails we get. Now there are certain people who evidently get up every morning and fire off a nasty email to all the members of the legislature before breakfast, kind of like some people go to daily mass and others run on their treadmill. Their names and the names they call us become familiar to all of us. We started trying to figure out whose district these emailers were from.

Finally, I emailed the one who we all felt was the most flamboyant and asked what part of the state he lived in. Nobody answers these kinds of emails, and I think it was the first time any of us had clicked “reply” on one of his. The person responded and asked why I wanted to know. I said that we’d been talking about him and were wondering whose district he lived in.

If it’s possible to sound abashed in an email, this person did. I really don’t think he realized that people read the stuff he was sending. In all the years since, he has never sent another blanket email to the Oklahoma House.

Of course, this person, hateful and goofy-sounding as his emails were, did not rise to the level that gets someone into the “Crazy People” file. It takes a special kind of venom, and usually a couple of threats, to land there.

The point I’m making is if you’re writing your legislator in support of Christian values, remember that someone will read what you send. Do your best to sound like a follower of Christ and not an escapee from a wingnut radio talk show. You can make your point just as well without calling people names or attacking their intelligence, beliefs, children, parentage or appearance.

Remember: When you say your are a Christian, other people judge Christ by you. Don’t be a negative witness for Christ just because you think it’s clever and witty to degrade other people with your speech. Civility will not only make you a better witness for Christ, it will make you more persuasive about the positions you are advocating.

It can also keep you out of the “Crazy People” file.

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Tenth Circuit Rules Okies Can Get Gay Married

 

The tenth circuit has upheld a lower court ruling striking down Oklahoma’s Constitutional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

I am guessing that Oklahoma will take this to the Supremes.

it should be interesting to see if the Supreme Court agrees to hear this and, if they do, how they rule.

If they intended to destroy marriage by judicial fiat and not put their hands directly on it, they’ve succeeded brilliantly. However, if they really meant that marriage is not a federal issue and that the states should decide for themselves, they need to do some fine-tuning.

Either way, I am convinced that we are in for a long fight, probably a generational fight. But we will win in the long run. Of that I have no doubt.

To read the decision, go here.

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