The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.
House Bill 3872:
This bill would make conversion therapy illegal for all minors. Conversion therapy is defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity” in the legislation.
Conversion therapy has been a topic of debate for a while in America, with high profile conservative figures like Mike Pence accused as advocates. To these supporters, being in the LGBT+ community is considered a problem that must be fixed by this so-called therapy The obvious question: why do people within the conservative sphere seem to support bills which strip LBGT+ people of their rights? Aren’t they supposed to support small government and individual liberty? How are they okay with children being forced by their parents to attend this “therapy”?
Beyond being completely inadequate at addressing the real troubles LBGT+ people face, conversion therapy often makes these people feel unwanted and isolated from society. It is a terribly invalidating thing to tell people they must change who they are fundamentally.
With this being said, hopefully House Bill 3872 will come to pass through the legislature. Oklahoma is of course densely comprised of the aforementioned conservatives, though many conservatives (even Mike Pence!) have denounced the use of conversion therapy as too extreme.
Senate Bill 1081:
This bill is a countermeasure to possible future Red Flag laws in Oklahoma. Red Flag laws enable law enforcement to confiscate a person’s firearms after an approval from the state court deeming them a danger to others or themselves. The guns can then be returned after a period of time if the person is no longer deemed an extreme risk.
One of the most startling things about the bill is that it isn’t just preventing the state legislature from creating Red Flag laws. Even future federal laws enforcing “extreme risk protection” would become “null, void, unenforceable and of no effect in the state of Oklahoma.”
Gun control is another issue that is very much on the minds of voters today given the rise in mass shootings across the country. Personally, I don’t believe that lack of gun control is the sole problem, but people who are deemed an extreme risk by a court should not be allowed to have guns. Additionally, Red Flag laws can also do a lot to prevent suicide by firearm, given that guns can be confiscated when the owner is a danger to themself.
The bill has gone through several steps in the senate but has yet to be subjected to a vote. Hopefully the legislature will see the importance of red flag laws and not eliminate the possibility of implementing them later.