In the hours following the US Supreme Court narrowly sided in a favor of Christian bakery’s ability to turn away gay couples, several of Oklahoma’s members of Congress praised the decision, while one of the state’s most prominent LGBTQ rights groups appeared cautiously optimistic.
The case surrounded Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO. after the owner of the bakery was told by the state’s civil rights commission he could not refuse service to a gay couple trying to commission a wedding cake.
Sen. James Lankford (R), a staunch Christian Conservative, said the ruling was a victory against government intrusion on religious practices and beliefs as well as the first amendment.
“This decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop affirms that the free exercise of religion is more than the freedom of worship, it’s the right to live and work according to a faith of your choosing or to choose no faith at all.”
Lankford also signed on to an amicus brief along with several other members of Congress in support of Masterpiece last year.
Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK5) also called the ruling a victory for First Amendment rights.
“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment is vital to our individual freedom. The Supreme Court has overwhelmingly and justly protected the Bill of Rights with this ruling,” he wrote.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) invoked a founding father in his praise of the Court’s decision writing on Twitter, “George Washington was steadfast in his belief of God, His law & that liberty is God’s gift. His leadership was based on the conviction that Americans are entrusted by God to preserve basic freedoms in the Constitution, including religious liberty. Today that freedom was upheld.”
The ruling will likely not have a great affect on Oklahoma. The state already has a law specifically aimed at preventing the government from forcing a person, company or nonprofit organization into participating in a same-sex wedding.
“In any action brought under the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, neither the State of Oklahoma nor any subdivision thereof shall be entitled to claim a governmental interest which purports to require any person to participate in any marriage ceremony, celebration, or other related activity or to provide items or services for such purposes against the person's religious beliefs,” the law reads.
Freedom Oklahoma, one of the state’s largest lobbying groups for LGBTQ rights also appeared to be satisfied with the ruling and opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, saying the court “punted” on the first amendment issue and ruled instead on the Colorado Commission’s actions against the baker.
“We also agree with Justice Kennedy that states need to address the deficits in anti-discrimination laws, and we look forward to working with Oklahoma lawmakers to do just that,” Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson said in a statement Monday afternoon.
While Oklahoma does define protected classes in its civil rights statute, it does not include sexual orientation. Under Oklahoma law protected classes are defined as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, creed, age, disability or genetic information.
Oklahoma is one of 21 states with the controversial laws on the books. Ten other states have similar laws that were interpreted by state courts, not passed by lawmakers. Alabama is the only state which made the law a constitutional amendment