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Oklahoma Leads the US in the Number of Bills Attacking LGBT Individuals: A Chat with Troy Stevenson

Aired on Monday, February 1st.

Today marks the beginning of the 2016 legislative session for the State of Oklahoma, and rightly enough, the issue gathering the most attention is the nearly $1 billion gap in the state's budget -- an astounding figure, to be sure. But on today's StudioTulsa, we turn our attention in another important, equally unsettling direction. And it's not a matter of one single troubling issue, actually, but rather a multitude of infractions. To wit, there are more than 100 anti-LGBT bills that will be considered in state legislatures across the nation this year, and lawmakers here in the Sooner State have put forward (at last count) 26 such proposals. Our guest is Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, which is the statewide nonprofit LGBT advocacy organization. As Stevenson noted recently in a press release: "Oklahoma is regrettably leading the nation in the number of bills attacking LGBT people, their families, and visitors in the 2016 legislative session.... These vile attacks are shameful, far-reaching, and would no doubt be incredibly destructive to this great state -- resulting in multiple, expensive legal challenges and a greatly damaged reputation.... For the second year in a row, a handful of Oklahoma legislators have decided to engage in the politics of distraction rather than attempting to address the real problems of our state, such as a budget shortfall set to exceed a billion dollars." Such harmful measures range from a proposed Joint House Resolution that would put the right to discriminate on the ballot to a pro-"conversion therapy" bill, and from numerous pieces of legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality to proposals aimed at authorizing individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people. You can learn more about all of these anti-LGBT proposals at the Freedom Oklahoma website.

Rich Fisher passed through KWGS about thirty years ago, and just never left. Today, he is the general manager of Public Radio Tulsa, and the host of KWGS’s public affairs program, StudioTulsa, which celebrated its twentieth anniversary in August 2012 . As host of StudioTulsa, Rich has conducted roughly four thousand long-form interviews with local, national, and international figures in the arts, humanities, sciences, and government. Very few interviews have gone smoothly. Despite this, he has been honored for his work by several organizations including the Governor's Arts Award for Media by the State Arts Council, a Harwelden Award from the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, and was named one of the “99 Great Things About Oklahoma” in 2000 by Oklahoma Today magazine.
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