Oklahoma City Council votes to reinstate Human Rights Commission

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that will reinstate the city’s Commission on Human Rights, after two years of work by the task force.

The Human Rights Commission was created in 1980, but was abolished in 1996 because he supported the rights of the LGBTQ community; however, the racial unrest and protests of 2020 have renewed a call for the city to fight discrimination in all its forms.

In his 2022 State of the City Address, Mayor David Holt said the commission mirrored efforts in other major cities.

“Making sure everyone is a part of our story is critical as we continue to grow,” he said in his remarks. “The top 20 cities are diverse cities. We are now a city that includes people from all walks of life and from all corners of the world. »

The OKC board voted narrowly to approve the Commission with a 5-4 vote.

However, the vote did not go without fierce comments from the public.

Oklahoma City is not Detroit, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland or Chicago. Why are we trying to create and follow other liberal cities,” Carol Hefner said.

“It looks like we’ve had one in the past and I see no reason to resurrect it now, [and] I want to mention that I think it would ultimately be divisive,” said George Teague, also present at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Human Rights Commission will be responsible for addressing “alleged harm caused to persons discriminated against because of their race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, or disability related to employment, housing and public accommodations under the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act”.

“Oklahomians have a reputation for coming together during disasters and hard times; economic status and race are not an issue,” added Margaritt Kapaun.

Commission opponents said the group would do more harm than good; others worried about the cost.

“Why would you want to control my thinking and my actions,” said Laurette Cuellar.

Commission supporters also spoke out at Tuesday’s meeting, saying everyone should have a voice.

“It’s transparent. Everyone can see what’s going on,” Kristen Schuble said.

“We need to make sure we listen to the voices of people who need help,” added Sen. George Young, D-OKC, also speaking out against the opposition.

“I’ve been black all my life, 68,” he added. “You can’t tell me because you live in a neighborhood, which is good for me, because you don’t encounter what I encounter.”

“Today, for the first time in a generation, Oklahoma City residents live in a community with a human rights commission,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said in a statement Tuesday. A press release.

“The Oklahoma City Way triumphs once again. Most importantly, we validated that everyone is welcome in Oklahoma City and everyone is loved. At OKC, human rights for all is something we stand for,” the statement added.

The Commission on Human Rights will be composed of nine members. Each of the eight city council members will recommend someone to represent their ward to the mayor. The mayor will appoint a person at large, who will act as chair of the commission. A member must be a lawyer.

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