// Religous Freedom Under Attack in Oklahoma
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« on: Mar 25, 2009 05:23 AM »


(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 3/20/09) - The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) and the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma (ACLU of OK) today called on Oklahomans who are concerned with constitutionally-protected religious freedoms to contact their state senators about proposed legislation that would ban religious headwear in driver’s license and other identification card photos.

The bill, HB 1645, passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on March 2, 2009 by 88-8. An Oklahoma Senate subcommittee, the Transportation Committee, is expected to take up the bill.

SEE: Religious Head Covering Bill

The proposed amendment states: “The photograph or image shall clearly identify the licensee or cardholder and shall depict a full front unobstructed view of the entire head and shoulders of the licensee or cardholder. Hats, head scarves, head garments…that cover or partially cover the head or shoulders are strictly prohibited and shall not be worn by the licensee or cardholder when being photographed for a license or identification card.”

CAIR-OK believes the amendment proposed by Rep. Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs) was introduced in reaction to CAIR-Oklahoma’s successful resolution of a dispute over a Muslim woman’s right to wear Islamic head scarves, or hijab, in her driver’s license photo.

SEE: Okla. House Passes Bill Banning Religious Head Covering

SEE ALSO: CAIR-OK: Okla. Muslim Takes Driver’s License Photo with Hijab

Senator Roger Ballenger (D-8) was the first sponsor of HB 1645, but took his name off it questioning the bill’s motives. Sen. Ballenger called DPS who said, “they do not have a problem with the current law.”

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) criticized Oklahoma’s House of Representatives for its attack on religious freedom.

See: Religious Freedoms Under Attack in Oklahoma

“It appears that the author of the bill was unaware that this would disproportionately affect Catholic nuns, Orthodox Jews, Sikh men, Muslim women and other religious groups who have headwear. There are also medical patients who would be affected, in particular those undergoing chemotherapy who lose their hair and may wear wigs, scarves or hats,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi. “By embracing the diversity our state has to offer, we need to respect one another and not violate each other’s first amendment rights.”


1. CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATORS and urge him or her to ensure that religious freedoms continue to be protected by the U.S. Constitution. This will ensure that Americans do not view Oklahomans as divisive and opposed to interfaith dialogue and the many contributions by its diverse citizens.

Contact Your Elected Officials click here.

Call the Oklahoma State Capitol switchboard at 405-521-3356 and ask for your representatives’ office.

2. CONTACT the Transportation Committee Chairman to ensure that the Oklahomans’ First Amendment Rights of religious freedoms are protected. (Find suggested talking points below).

Senator Cliff Branan (R-40) Phone: 405-521-5543, E-Mail: branan@oksenate.gov

Sample talking points:

All Oklahomans should be concerned when there is a chance for violations of any religious liberty.
If the purpose for such a bill is to clearly identify an individual, then one should be photographed wearing what one would wear every day regardless if it is headwear or glasses.
The Department of Public Safety already has a policy for religious exemptions on headgear, and this bill is unnecessary.
Oklahomans should not tolerate such blatant attacks on minority faiths.
Ensure all Oklahomans’ First Amendment Rights are protected. Urge your State Senator to vote No on HB 1645. Request a religious and medical exemption to the bill.
3. CONTACT Oklahoma State Senators from the Transportation Committee to inform them about the HB 1645.

Senator Bryce Marlatt (R-27), marlatt@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5626
Senator Randy Bass (D-32), bass@okseante.gov, (405) 521-5567
Senator Brian Bingman (R-12), bingman@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5528
Senator Randy Brogdon (R-34), brogdon@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5566
Senator Bill Brown (R-36), brownb@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5602
Senator Sean Burrage (D-2), burrage@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5555
Senator Harry Coates (R-28), coates@okseante.gov, (405) 521-5547
Senator Judy Eason-McIntyre (D-11), easonmcintyre@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5598
Senator Earl Garrison (D-9), garrisone@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5533
Senator Connie Johnson (D-48), johnsonc@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5531
Senator Ron Justice (R-23), justice@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5537
Senator Debbe Leftwich (D-44), holland@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5557
Senator David Myers (R-20), ingraham@Oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5628
Senator Mike Schulz (R-38), schulz@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5612
Senator Joe Sweeden (D-10), sweeden@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5581
Senator Charlie Wyrick (D-1), wyrick@oksenate.gov, (405) 521-5561

4. WRITE letters to the editor, OP-EDs or blogs to educate Oklahomans and other Americans about this infringement on our civil liberties.

5. SHARE this important alert with your colleagues, friends and family. Post to personal blogs.

6. Oklahoma residents only - sign this letter or write your own and send it to your Oklahoma state senator. CAIR-OK and ACLU-OK have prepared a letter to address Oklahoma State Senators.

CONTACT: CAIR-OK Executive Director Razi Hashmi, 405-248-5853, E-Mail: rhashmi@cair.com; CAIR-OK Chairperson Lobna Hewedi, E-Mail: lhewedi@cair.com; ACLU-OK Legislative Counsel Tamya Cox, ACLU Deputy Director C.S. Thornton; 405-524-8511; E-Mail: acluok@acluok.org

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