Oklahoma County discrimination policy prompts debate at state and local level

Thursday, March 10th 2005, 6:30 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A squabble over whether a county should have a policy protecting homosexuals from discrimination is having far-reaching implications.

The policy enacted late last year by Oklahoma County's budget board protects county employees, applicants and contractors from being slighted based on sexual orientation and political affiliation, among other things.

Attorney Jim Roth, Oklahoma County's first openly gay commissioner, helped develop the policy, which he says is aimed at insulating the county from liability.

But in a state where 76 percent of voters favored banning gay marriage, protecting the rights of gay people isn't so popular.

Fellow Commissioners Brent Rinehart and Stan Inman support disbanding the county's budget board, which approved the policy and oversees the county's budget process.

A bill introduced by Tulsa state Representative Daniel Sullivan would amend state law to say that any non-discrimination policy developed by a business or government agency based on sexual orientation would be null and void.