OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City Republican lawmaker has introduced a measure that would reinstate the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to ban openly gay service members in the Oklahoma National Guard.
State Rep. Mike Reynolds authored a measure that would prohibit anyone who was ineligible to serve in the U.S. armed forces under federal regulations that were in effect on Jan. 1, 2009, from serving in the state’s Guard.
Reynolds said the state is allowed to set its own standards for service in the National Guard and is not required to duplicate standards for the rest of the U.S. military.
House Bill 2195 would amend existing state law that allows any able-bodied U.S. citizen and who is at least 18 years old and not yet 70 to serve in the Oklahoma National Guard.
When contacted by LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday, the spokesman for the Guard, Lt. Colonel Max Moss said that the Guard would not comment on the pending legislation.
A spokesperson for Reynolds said Tuesday that the measure was being introduced in response to requests from members of the Oklahoma National Guard.
Toby Jenkins, executive director of Tulsa-based Oklahomans for Equality, told LGBTQ Nation that Reynolds’ measure is mean-spirited and damaging to the morale of gay Oklahoma Guard troops that are currently serving in combat operations in Afghanistan.
He said his group is opposed to the the bill, urging the state’s other legislators to kill the measure.
Jenkins also pointed out that it was the Tulsa based group’s center that had U.S. Military recruiters on the premises the day that DADT was formally repealed last September 20th ready to sign up new recruits.
“Oklahoma has serious pressing issues — meth crimes, prisons that are filling up too fast, schools that aren’t working and this is the issue he picks as the most serious in need of attention?” Jenkins said.
“The other disturbing aspect to his bill,” Jenkins added, “is that there is a section which would allow for a potential recruit to be interrogated about their sexual orientation — this is simply intrusive.”
Jenkins said that his group will work with LGBTQ allies in the state legislative committee where it currently is pending to try to stop the bill before it comes to a floor vote.
“It is this sort of thing, Reynolds and, well, even Sally Kern, which gives other people the idea that every Oklahoman is homophobic,” Jenkins said.
“But that is not the reality. The truth is that there are more inclusive and accepting persons in this state than outright bigots,” he said.