Unless the reforms in the Marriage Freedom Bill are acted upon, the ministers of Oklahoma risk a federal civil rights lawsuit for not preforming homosexual wedding ceremonies. That's the concern of Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell). He reports that his Marriage Freedom Bill (HB1418) is being refused a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Rep Chris Kannady (R-OKC) is the chairman.
This is current bill by the licensed Pentecostal minister from Western Oklahoma did pass the House 2 years ago with broad support, but was held up in the senate, pending the US Supreme Court ruling on Oklahoma's Marriage Amendment. Sadly, the last senate never resumed the process of bringing the bill (HB 1123, of 2015) to the senate floor for a final vote.
Rep. Russ's bill would spare any minister from potential civil or statutory action for refusing to participate in morally objectionable ceremonies. The reforms allow a couple to attain the same outcome through a signed affidavit at the courthouse, simply making the officiant an optional witness to the covenant. This way religious couples can solemnize a sacramental marriage rite in their own faith community, but the Reverend would not face legal vulnerabilities for refraining from performing ceremonies for anyone who doesn't meet the ecclesiastical standards set by the minister.
The legislation also reforms the Oklahoma Code by referring to the document as a "Marriage Certificate" instead of a license. Libertarian apologists insist that marriage is a 'Sui Jurus', or 'right of mankind' that the state does not possess the right in natural law to give permission to (or withhold arbitrary permission). Current law on polygamy remains in full force, but it become the state's burden, rather than the citizen's burden to establish.
As one civil rights advocate said; "A license is permission to do that which would otherwise be prohibited".
As Rep. Russ infers; " Unless the Judiciary Chair decides to give the bill a fair hearing and vote, the bill will die by the vote of one man"... and Chris Kannady evidently is that man.
In related news, Rep. Travis Dunlap has filed a bill which removes any option for Oklahoma residents to declare a legal Common-Law marriage status. His bill, HB1257, would remove any further possibility of an undocumented couple to receive the status benefits, and legal protections afforded by law. Unless that couple can provide acceptable evidence, their legal protections will be greatly diminished, if HB1257 becomes law. It also awaits Rep. Chris Kannady's decision, in the Judiciary Committee.