Last year we reported that 17 anti-LGBTQ bills were defeated in Oklahoma thanks to the hard work of Freedom Oklahoma and the many advocates and allies on the ground working for equality. It was an incredible feat in a very challenging political environment; most of the legislators in Oklahoma lean conservative.
At Equality Federation, we believe that true engagement in communities where the work is often the most difficult is what builds the foundation for the strongest movement possible. And, we envision a country in which all of us can freely and openly live, work, and be with our loved ones in the places that are home to us. Oklahomans are leading the way.
Just before the holidays, the City Council of Norman voted unanimously to extend nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people:
Momentum continued this week when The Oklahoma City Council voted to extend nondiscrimination protections in housing to LGBT people and their families. Celebrating the victory, Equality Federation’s Organizational Development & Training Manager Amanda McLain-Snipes was featured in The Oklahoman:
“Amanda McLain-Snipes married her longtime girlfriend Sept. 5 in Oklahoma City.
Tuesday she stepped further out of the shadows as the city council extended protections from discrimination in housing to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.
“Today is the day we can turn the page; today is the day we get to say, ‘Yes, you are protected. Yes, you are worthy. Yes, you are home,’ ” she said.
As part of a broader update, the council voted 5-4 to add sexual orientation and gender identity as “protected classes” within its housing discrimination ordinance.
To a list that for many years has included race, sex, religion and national origin, the council also added familial status, disability and age.
McLain-Snipes recalled riding her bicycle as a child growing up in Quail Creek and summer excursions to Braum’s ice cream shops.
But as a grown-up in her own hometown, she told the council, she found herself forced to hide her true relationship with her girlfriend — now wife — from their landlords.
“I did so because I was afraid — afraid to come home and see changed locks, afraid to be thrown out overnight, afraid we’d lose all of our property, afraid that we would lose everything we were working for.
“You see,” she said, “when you live in a community that doesn’t outright accept you, you go into a mode where you just want to be invisible. You want to live and let live, you minimize your risks, minimize your exposure.”
Now, McLain-Snipes said, “since I love our community, it is my responsibility to be part of the solution.”
“I’m a daughter of our city,” she said, “and I also happen to be gay.”
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