The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to allow Oklahomans to amend the state constitution and eliminate a portion of law cited in the ruling against the display of a Ten Commandments monument on Oklahoma State Capitol grounds.
House Joint Resolution 1062, by state Rep. Randy Grau, 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.”
“When we learned that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the Ten Commandments monument removed from the Capitol, everyone was surprised,” said Grau, R-Edmond, an attorney and chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “The ruling went against clear legal precedent supporting the placement of such monuments on government property. Our state’s highest court misinterpreted the Constitution, and we had no choice but to send the question to the people of Oklahoma regarding the public display of such monuments. ”
State Rep. John Paul Jordan, who presented the bill on the House floor, said he was pleased by its passage.
“For me it was important to repeal Art. II, Sec. 5, not just for the Ten Commandments, but also because of the long ranging consequences of the State Supreme Court’s decision in Prescott will have.” said Jordan, R-Yukon, an attorney. “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. This impact has already been felt in Johnston County, where the ACLU filed a lawsuit based solely on Art. II, Sec. 5, and forced the removal of their Ten Commandments monument.”
If approved, a state question will be submitted to the Secretary of State to be placed on the November ballot.