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Census: More same-sex partner households counted in Oklahoma

Census shows the number of residents living with same-sex partner up sharply over last 10 years
BY JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS Published: July 17, 2011

Oklahoma City effort

In Oklahoma City, the push among the gay and lesbian community to be counted in the 2010 Census was similar to Tulsa's, said Scott J. Hamilton, the executive director of the Cimarron Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to advocacy and education on behalf of Oklahoma's gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“We went to the clubs, we stood on street corners, we made T-shirts, we talked to everybody who would listen,” said Hamilton, who is gay and lives with his longtime partner. “Because the greater significance that we could demonstrate in the state (through the census), the greater our journey toward equality.”

Some social conservatives in Oklahoma's Legislature said they were ambivalent about the increase in residents identifying themselves as living in a same-sex household.

“It's not illegal, is it?” asked State Rep. Mike Ritze, of Broken Arrow. “Whether people want to be living together in that situation, that's their choice.”

State Rep. Sally Kern, who said three years ago that she thinks gay people posed a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorists, said she wasn't surprised the numbers had gone up, and that she finds this “regrettable.”

“I think the influence of the church plays a factor here. We have more churches today ... that are saying homosexuality does not go against biblical truth,” said Kern, explaining why she thought the numbers had increased.

“Another factor is homosexuality is being taught in our schools as a normal and acceptable lifestyle, so when that happens, you are going to have more young people coming out of school who have a more favorable attitude towards homosexuality.”

Jenkins said he hopes that by the 2020 Census, different-minded people will have been elected to statehouses across the country and will begin to address discriminatory policies perceived as directed toward the gay community.

“(The new lawmakers) are going to call them what they are, ‘mean-spirited and harmful for the state of Oklahoma,' and they're going to vote legislation in that makes sure all of our citizens are respected.”


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