Oklahomans Respond To New Policy Protecting Gay Employees

Tuesday, November 15th 2011, 8:44 pm
By: News 9

Metro residents divided over two words that protect gay workers. Oklahoma City Council passed the controversial sexual orientation measure Tuesday.

11/15/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma City Council Passes Policy Protecting Gay Employees

The measure passed 7 to 2. It protects gay city employees from workplace discrimination. Of course, it didn't come without controversy and a lot of debate. The issue brought Baptist ministers, civil rights activists, and residents from surrounding communities.

One man came from Yukon to speak out against the measure.

"It's a trickledown effect, you do something somewhere it goes to the next spot, and so it doesn't just stay in Oklahoma City. Other places are going to take the same approach," Eric Rogers said.

Eleven citizens from the packed council chambers voiced their opinions with passion.

"I would like to look at everyone in this room right now, all of you," a gay citizen said.

Some of the speeches drew applause.

"We are doing exactly what we are supposed to do under the law," said Councilman Skip Kelly, who voted against the measure.

Councilmen Skip Kelly and Larry McAtee opposed adding sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination policy.

Councilman Ed Shadid called for the resolution. He said it will not cost the city or taxpayers a dime to add the two words.

"I am a businessman. I like the idea of running government like a business," said Shadid. "When I look at the largest employers in OKC, I see they have all added this to their policies."

Not everyone is happy it passed. But an 82-year-old man with two gay children said it's the beginning of progress.

"I long for the day when the city council of Oklahoma city will no longer be debating such things as equality for all people," Robert Lemons said.

Councilman Shadid was confident it would pass the council. He said overall it brought healthy discussion and was pleased to see so many citizens show up for vote.

Councilman Shadid said the policy does not obligate the city to provide any extra benefits to partners of gay employees.