Possibly No Marriage in Oklahoma? Democrats Speak Out Against Shell Bill

The Oklahoma Democratic Party released a statement Monday opposing a Republican representative's bill about marriage. The statement said the bill promotes "hatred, bigotry and discrimination."

Republican State Representative Mike Turner (District 82) recently put forward a shell bill that his assistant said is meant to launch discussions on marriage. His assistant told Channel 8 there is no wording for the bill yet.

This bill has gotten Oklahomans talking about the possibility that the state bill could try to end marriage in general. This follows a decision a judge made earlier this month to strike down the ban against same-sex marriage in Oklahoma.

"This is a political stunt, and they're playing games with these political issues, and the problem is that these issues affect people's lives," said Tulsa County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Whelan.

Whelan said the state's conservative legislators, Governor Mary Fallin, and the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative work to promote traditional marriage.

"I think they see in front of them a road that will lead to marriage equality," Whelan said. He said the bill is likely another tool to fight that.

Governor Fallin's representative said she has not reviewed the legislation and has not taken a position on it. Turner has not released an official comment to Channel 8 as of 8:45 p.m. Monday.

The Oklahoma Marriage Institute runs on federal and state funds, including around $7 million annually from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. A spokesperson said its aim is to create healthy and stable families through relationship skills and resiliency.

OMI said in a statement, "It will be an interesting discussion given all the laws and policies that are connected to the act of marriage, both in Oklahoma and at the federal level. Legislators have a big task ahead of them as they explore the benefits and the consequences of this proposal."

Channel 8 spoke with a heterosexual couple getting married at the Tulsa County Courthouse Monday about the legislation and the possibility of ending marriage in Oklahoma.

"I think they're wrong. Period. I mean, I think it's alright for gays to get married. I have a sister that's actually gay. So to me, I don't see nothing wrong with it," said groom James Bryan.