UPDATE: There seems to be some degree of misunderstanding on what’s going on here. See the comments below for more discussion, specifically from the representative himself. The bill seems to already be on the law books, and thus needs to be removed, even if it’s not enforced, as it very obviously violates religious freedom as guaranteed in the United States Constitution. My example, below, of a legislator trying to suddenly ban communion rites in a church stands as an obvious parallel to this law that exists on Oklahoma’s books. As Louise pointed out, there are already clergy all over the nation who perform same-sex weddings, regardless of whatever civil marriage is recognized in their jurisdiction. Representative Nelson explains that this is a “shell bill,” which contains an amendment to the text (reflected in the quote below), which would change the reading from “imprisonment in the State Penitentiary” to “custody of the Department of Corrections.” The Representative states that this is not a bill that he plans to advance in this session, but that he has filed as a shell bill, just in case he decides to advance other legislation related to marriage. So, it’s good news (?) that this is not new, but it’s grotesque that it exists. It’s a simple fact that in many Christian denominations, a large percentage of Jewish congregations, and several other religious entities, that they include same-sex couples in their sacrament of marriage. So my question to the representative is this: Do you support repeal of this provision, however unenforced it may be, and why or why not?


Yes, as opposed to simply banning state recognition of same-sex marriage, Rep. Jason Nelson, a fresh faced knuckle dragger wearing an ill-fitting knit shirt, has put forth a bill that would criminalize performing same-sex weddings:

Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City has introduced HB 3408 “An act relating to marriage.” It would make it a felony for a minister of the Gospel to solemnize a marriage not recognized by the state of Oklahoma.

Here’s the text of the bill:

Any minister of the Gospel, or other person authorized to solemnize the rites of matrimony within this state, who shall knowingly solemnize the rites of matrimony between persons prohibited by this chapter, from intermarrying shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) and imprisonment in the State Penitentiary custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years.

Jason. Hi, Jason! This is Evan. I need to explain something to you. The separation of church and state? It goes both ways. You, wingnut, have proposed a bill that would legislate, from the secular government, what rites and sacraments a church may or may not administer.

Let me provide a hypothetical counter-example that might illustrate how utterly stupid and unconstitutional your idea current Oklahoma state law really is:

Hi, Jason. Now I’m your representative! I have just put forth a bill in the Oklahoma legislature that states that your church may not perform the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Why? I don’t know, I just don’t like it very much! I think it’s weird! And Jesus was 100% human, and we outlawed cannibalism in Oklahoma at least five years ago.

Now, Jason, how would you like that particular bushel of apples? I have a sneaking suspicion that you might have a problem with it.

How many times do we have to explain that the government does not recognize your religious marriage in the first place?* They recognize your signed marriage certificate. Therefore! It’s absolutely irrelevant whether or not the state allows or disallows state-sanctioned civil marriage for same-sex couples! The church may offer the sacrament to whomever it will. I mean, give me a break! I know of certain Episcopal churches that have special days when they bless peoples’ various ponies and kittens for them. Because inside the church walls, they can do whatever the hell they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody. That’s called religious freedom!

Clear now? If you need pictures or something like that, maybe a pop-up book, you just let me know.

(h/t Louise at the Blend)

*Yes, there are common law exceptions, but that’s way beside the point.