Oklahoma's controversial hate crimes exclusion bill that was proposed by extreme anti-gay State Senator Steve Russell, which passed the Senate 39-6 and sought to exempt the state from the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, dies in a House committee. One of the leaders of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus personally took charge of "the bill to kill it", reports Tulsa World.
"Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, became the House author of Senate Bill 1965, by Sen. Steven Russell, R-Oklahoma City. Shelton said he took control of the bill to kill it and asked that the bill not get heard in the House Judiciary Committee. Russell said he had substantially rewritten the bill from its original version. Under the new language, if local law enforcement objected to turning information over to the federal government in a hate-crimes investigation, federal authorities would have to file a petition in court showing good cause why they needed the information, Russell said...Shelton said SB 1965 would have prohibited Oklahoma law enforcement agencies from cooperating with any federal agency in the investigation of a federal hate crime. But Russell said his bill had been misinterpreted. He said he was concerned that pastors who preached against homosexuality could be prosecuted if someone, as a result, took action against a gay person. 'In my view, this is not the end of it,' Russell said. 'We need protections in state law.' Speech needs to be protected unless it is directly related to a crime, he said."
Shelton is one of the vice-chairs of the legislature's black caucus. Shelton and fellow black legislators made national news two weeks ago when they called out a white, anti-gay Republican state senator for remarks about President Obama and fried chicken during a debate on the landmark health care reform legislation.
In related news: A 24-year-old Tulsa-area man has been harassed, attacked, robbed and beaten by neighbors because he is gay. He was even punched in the face while taking out the trash. More at Towleroad ...