Tulsa City Council Unanimously Votes To Expand Hate Crime Definition

Wednesday, September 16th 2020, 6:05 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

The Tulsa City Council unanimously passed an ordinance defining what the city considers as a hate crime.

The list of hate crimes would include malicious harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Related Story: LGBTQ Community Says Tulsa's Proposed Hate Crime Ordinance Is Overdue

Community leaders said this is a big win they've been working toward for years. It's also a first in the state of Oklahoma.

Toby Jenkins with the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center said it's a historic day for Tulsa after the city council's approval of new LGBTQ protections.

The amendment would result in a misdemeanor for first-time violators.

"This is a huge step and we've been waiting on it for a long time," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said they've been fighting for these changes for a decade at the state level. He said the LGBTQ community is regularly targeted and harassed.

"I'm glad we're finally going to have a pathway to justice, we're finally going to acknowledge these crimes for what they are, they're motivated out of bias, and hate, and they want to terrorize an entire community, and want to make us be afraid, but we're not leaving," Jenkins said.

He said they've never had a way to seek justice for what he considers hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. City councilors said they didn't hear a single hateful public comment during their vote, saying that shows the progress, and calling it a light in a challenging time.

"Our councilors seem to understand it represents people in their districts, where they've had individuals had these acts of vandalism, or they've been threatened or harassed, for there to be an awareness among elected officials that the time is now, it's incredibly encouraging to me that Tulsa is trying to do the right thing, and trying to lead the rest of the state," Jenkins said.

The changes will now go to Mayor GT Bynum for his approval.