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Oklahoma lawmaker wants to ban gays and lesbians from state's National Guard

WASHINGTON -- The Human Rights Campaign is joining The Equality Network in condemning legislation Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City) is pushing that would implement a more extreme version of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) law, which would be applicable to the state’s National Guard.

The bill would ban gay, lesbian and bisexual people from serving in the Oklahoma National Guard.

The bill goes beyond the discrimination contained in the now-repealed DADT statute, and allows government officials to directly question someone about their sexual orientation – essentially removing the “Don’t Ask” component contained in DADT.

“Since repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ last year, military leaders have testified that our nation’s military is stronger,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “It’s surprising that an Air Force veteran like Representative Reynolds would disagree with our nation’s military leaders and seek to weaken Oklahoma’s National Guard by introducing this legislation. This legislation serves no purpose but to prevent qualified individuals from serving their country and their state.”

“Mike Reynolds has a long-standing history of representing fringe views that rarely have the best interests of all Oklahomans at heart,” said Laura Belmonte, chair of The Equality Network. “This legislation is demoralizing to Oklahoma’s LGBT community and our supporters, and it sends a message that it is acceptable to discriminate against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. At a time of growing momentum for equality at the national level, this legislation will turn back the clock on advancements at the state-level.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen said the day after implementation of repeal: “… with implementation of the new law fully in place, we are a stronger joint force, a more tolerant joint force, a force of more character and more honor, more in keeping with our own values." Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said: "Thanks to this change, I believe we move closer to achieving the goal at the foundation of the values that America is all about: equality, equal opportunity and dignity for all Americans.”

If the bill were to become law, Oklahoma would join countries like China, Iran, Syria, North Korea and Pakistan in prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving their country.

Oklahoma’s new legislative session begins Feb. 6.