A conservative Republican Oklahoma state senator who has compared homosexuality to necrophilia has challenged the "morality" of the Matthew Shepard Act, the historic law signed in October by President Obama that expanded federal hate crime definitions to include gays, lesbians and transgenders. Russell—the former commander at Ft. Hood—wants to exempt the Sooner State from the law's provisions. Russell doesn't mind working with the federal government on hate crimes only those related to his state's LGBT community, reports MetroStar.
State Sen. Steve Russell stated his plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming Oklahoma legislative session that would exempt Oklahoma from adhering to the expanded Federal Hate Crimes law. This proposed measure would forbid state and local law enforcement from cooperating with Federal authorities investigating a gay hate crime in Oklahoma. As Senator Russell stated, "Basically if Oklahoma decided a case that the Feds wanted to overturn, they would be on their own. We would not share evidence or manpower." Russell did state further that his proposed bill would not interfere in cases Oklahoma deemed appropriate in accordance with existing state hate crimes laws which do not include sexual orientation.
There's this reality check from Russell's only openly gay colleague in the Legislature:
Among those in opposition to this legislation is State Representative Al McAffrey, a Democrat representing District 88 and Oklahoma’s only openly gay legislator. As he puts it, "Senator Russell is employing the same tired arguments from yesteryear. Preventing crimes against Oklahomans because of who they are is in no way an attack on freedom. That argument is nothing but empty rhetoric used to scare and mislead folks." McAffrey also added that should this legislation pass it would be superseded by Federal law anyway, elaborating that "I believe this is a political ploy because of his position and probably that of his church in opposition to gay rights."
As the former commander at Fort Hood, Sen. Russell knows that federal law always supersedes state and local law. But it makes you wonder if the former military commander believe only certain demographics are worthy of being protected by our troops.