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OKLAHOMA CITY – A handful of conservatives in the Oklahoma Legislature are dangerously close to destroying the independence of the state’s judicial system, officials with the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday. New legislative attempts to force appellate court justices to retire, gut the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission, and politicize the selection of appellate court justices would eliminate the built in checks and balances of state government, said Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma. “What you’re seeing is legislative temper tantrum,” Henderson said. “When members of the legislature don’t like the way a court rules, they file bills like these to get rid ofRead More →

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An essay about poverty, hunger and Oklahoma City’s anti-panhandling ordinance By M. Scott Carter On the left side of my refrigerator, just above the latest art masterpiece by my eight-year-old daughter and next to the dog-shaped magnet given to me by my son, there’s a small, wrinkled receipt. The receipt seems out of place – after all, our refrigerator is nothing more than a large bulletin board – and this one takes up valuable real estate. The receipt is yellowed and old and so faded that it’s hard to read. But of all the things that have found their way to my home, that smallRead More →

(NOTE: We’re sharing this release from our friends at Freedom Oklahoma.) OKLAHOMA CITY — For the second year in a row a handful of Oklahoma state legislators lead the nation in introducing legislation aimed at stigmatizing LGBTQ Oklahomans. In a year where our state is facing a billion dollar budget shortfall, legislators are pushing over two-dozen bills that – if passed – are guaranteed to cost the taxpayers of Oklahoma millions of dollars in litigation fees, just to make the point that they believe gay and transgender Oklahomans should be second-class citizens. (See list on our website) These bills range from barring educators from helping LGBTQRead More →

OKLAHOMA CITY — The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has not endorsed any proposed amendments to Oklahoma City anti-panhandling ordinances and “remains committed to challenging the ordinance adopted in December in court,” its executive director said today. On Tuesday, members of the Oklahoma City Council advanced a proposal that would tighten rules preventing panhandling in the metro area. “Over the course of this debate we have reviewed hypothetical alternatives to the language that was passed by the council in December,” ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel said. “At that time, we expressed our thoughts. We have not endorsed any language that was proposed atRead More →

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Legislature should stop its attempts to undermine a United States Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said Thursday. During the summer of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples could legally marry. However, since that ruling many state legislatures across the country have attempted to hamper those marriages through legislation. In Oklahoma several conservative lawmakers have, again, filed legislative proposals for the 2016 session that attempt to undermine the recent progress toward equality. A bill by state Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, would prevent public funds from paying any “governmental salary”Read More →

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Legislature should move quickly to expand Medicaid, using the extra funds for health care coverage and to address criminal justice issues, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said Monday. By expanding Medicaid coverage ACLU Oklahoma leader Ryan Kiesel said the state would receive millions in much-needed cash which could be used to increase mental health coverage, a key component in modernizing Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. In December, Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said state revenue for remainder of FY 2016 was expected to be about $157 million short. That action required the state to cutRead More →

Rebekkah and Casey Newland

OKLAHOMA CITY — Rebekkah Newland and Jennifer Fleming continue to wait. Halloween is over. Thanksgiving is past. And, with just 8 days until Christmas, both women are being forced to continue a yearlong custody fight to see their children. Part of a trio of non-biological mothers in same-sex relationships who are waging a court battle to see their children, Newland and Fleming thought a unanimous ruling handed down in November by the Oklahoma Supreme Court would buttress their efforts. That ruling, on behalf of Charlene Ramey, helped pave the way for Ramey to see her son. Ramey was the non-biological mother of a child in a same-sex relationship.Read More →