The Norman Transcript

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February 25, 2012

Reynolds seeks to restrict city policies on discrimination

NORMAN — A state representative who has previously pledged to return Oklahoma to traditional Judeo-Christian precepts has authored a bill which would strip rights from Norman and other municipalities if passed.

State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, introduced House Bill 2245 to limit nondiscrimination ordinances for municipal employees by restricting those protections to only those also provided for state employees under Oklahoma statute. If approved, the act would become effective Nov. 1.

HB 2245 is scheduled to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. Calls seeking comment from Rep. Reynolds Friday were not returned.

Leaders from several equality groups, including ACLU-Oklahoma, The Equality Network, Oklahomans for Equality, and Cimarron Alliance joined their voices on Friday in condemning HB 2245, saying the measure would strike down nondiscrimination policies for municipal employees that include classes not protected under state employee nondiscrimination policies.

The state’s nondiscrimination policy does not encompass marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political affiliation. The city of Norman’s equal opportunity protections include political affiliation as a protected category.

According to section 200 of the city’s personnel manual regarding equal opportunity, “All employees and applicants shall be assured fair treatment in all aspects of personnel administration without regard to political affiliation, race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion, or creed, and there shall be proper regard for their privacy and constitutional rights as citizens.”

“Section 200 of the City’s Personnel Manual includes political affiliation in recognition of United States Supreme Court precedent which holds that political affiliation is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” said Norman City Manager Steve Lewis.

“I am surprised that Rep. Reynolds is contradicting his conservative beliefs which would not have government interfering on local decisions,” said Norman council member Tom Kovach. “How a municipality makes decisions about its employee policy should be strictly up to local control.”

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