OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted Thursday to allow voters the option of removing a section of the Oklahoma State Constitution cited in a ruling that led to the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from state Capitol grounds.
Senate Joint Resolution72, by state Rep. John Paul Jordan, removes a section of the Oklahoma State Constitution that provides that “public money or property cannot be used directly or indirectly for any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion.”
“Since the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision in June regarding the Ten Commandments monument, my constituents wanted to know what could be done,” said Jordan, Yukon-43 (R), an attorney. “I knew it would be a difficult proposition to undo the ruling, so we looked at giving voters the opportunity to remove the basis for the ruling. I want to thank state Sen. Rob Standridge, Norman-15 (R), for working with me on making sure this measure went forward, as well as my colleagues in the House and the wonderful people who have written and called the Capitol to make sure this measure passed.”
House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman said the people of Oklahoma deserve to have their voice heard.
“I appreciate Representative Jordan’s leadership to get this question to the people of Oklahoma,” said Hickman, Fairview-58 (R). “Oklahomans overwhelmingly supported the placement of the Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the state Capitol and they will now be given the opportunity to address the issue in our constitution which the Supreme Court cited in ordering the removal of the Ten Commandments monument.”
Jordan said the section of law that will be on the chopping block in November could now be interpreted in ways that could have long-ranging consequences after the precedent created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
“The new interpretation of this provision can potentially make our state hostile to religion and have damaging impacts on our counties, cities and school districts,” Jordan said. “This impact has already been felt in Johnston County, where the ACLU filed a lawsuit based solely on this section of the state constitution and forced the removal of their Ten Commandments monument. This is a battle that belongs to the great people of Oklahoma. It’s up to them to determine what they want. Do they want our state to follow the strict interpretation of Article II, Section 5 or to strike it, reaping the benefits of protecting religious liberty and keeping the Ten Commandments monument?”
With the approval of the amendment, a state question will be submitted to the Secretary of State to be placed on the November 2016 ballot.