Oklahoma voters decided not to repeal a section of the state constitution prohibiting the government from using money or property for the direct or indirect benefit of any religion or religious institution.
State Question 790 would have removed Article 2, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution - the article the Oklahoma Supreme Court used to argue the removal of the Ten Commandments on capitol grounds.
Supporters say religious liberty allows the placement of the monument on the state capitol ground and that it will remove an obstacle to allowing religious institutions to participate in public programs on an equal basis with non-religious institutions.
Opponents say passing 790 could affect many areas of religious freedom, including the state’s money and property being appropriated for specific religious purposes, such as funding religion-based schools or activities.
"Today, despite a well-funded and deceptive campaign by the proponents of this state question, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly rejected the dangerous and misguided attempt by politicians to strip away one of our most fundamental protections in exchange for cheap political points," said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU. "Politicians should take note that attempts to manipulate the law to protect only the rights of a chosen few cannot be tolerated. Legislators and state officials will surely continue their fear-mongering attempts to promote intolerance, but thanks to today’s vote, those who value true religious liberty will retain one more tool in the ongoing fight for liberty and justice for all."
They also say it would open the state to federal lawsuits that the Oklahoma Attorney General would have to defend using taxpayer money because the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution is still the law of the land and the government still cannot pay or show support for a religious group.