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An Introduction to SB1965 (formerly SB2165):

What SB1965 does and does not do:

• Does not add sexual orientation or gender identity to protected categories in

state hate crimes law (21 O.S. 2001, Section 850). The current law protects
neither gay or transgender people.
• Does not strengthen penalties; a first-time hate crimes offense remains a
• Directs that any data collected and reports received in a local or state hate
crimes investigation are to be destroyed in the event of that a defendant is
acquitted or the case is dismissed.
• Amends 51 O.S. 2001, Section 24A.8 to prevent law enforcement agencies from
granting access to law enforcement records to federal agencies attempting to
enforce federal hate crimes laws (18 U.S.C. Section 245).
• In the event that an Oklahoma court acquits or dismisses the charges filed
against an individual accused of committing a hate crime on the basis of race,
color, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability, this bill prevents federal
agencies from obtaining law enforcement records in order to pursue federal hate
crimes charges.
• Creates a new state law that allows state employees to refuse to assist federal
agencies attempting to enforce federal hate crimes laws when an individual has
not been convicted under the Oklahoma hate crimes law.
A History of SB1965 (formerly SB2165):

• October 2009 – U.S. Congress passes Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr.
Hate Crimes Protection Act.
• November 2009 – Senator Steve Russell (R- Oklahoma City) publicly announces
his intention to introduce a bill that would allow Oklahoma to opt-out of the new
federal hate crimes law.
• January 2010 – Sen. Russell introduces SB2165.
• February 2010 – Oklahoma Senate Judiciary Committee declines to pass
SB2165, bill appears “dead.”
• March 10, 2010 – Senator Russell introduces an amendment to SB1965, a bill to
create a task force to study the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities
Association. His amendment first deletes all of the language of SB1965 and then
inserts all of the language of his SB2165. Oklahoma State Senate then votes 39-
6 to pass the new SB1965.
• SB1965 will now be voted on by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

A sketch of Senator Steve Russell (R-District 45), author of SB1965 (formerly


• Republican
• District 45 (encompasses Canadian, Cleveland, and Oklahoma counties)
• Senate Member since 2008
• Retired Army Lt. Col, served 21 years
• Chairman and founder of Vets for Victory,
• Committee Memberships
– Serves on Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and
Regulatory Services
– Business and Labor Committee
– Vice-Chair, Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee
– Retirement and Insurance Committee
– Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

SB1965 (formerly SB2165) Talking Points

If SB1965 becomes law:

• It will be legally impossible for Oklahoma law enforcement officials to ask for
federal assistance in prosecuting federal hate crimes against lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people.
• It will require Oklahoma law enforcement officials to break federal law by
mandating that they destroy evidence and refuse to surrender evidence to
federal authorities when asked to do so.
• It will set a terrifying precedent of Oklahoma selectively enforcing federal laws
that guarantee equal protection for all U.S. citizens.
• It will make it impossible for LGBT Oklahomans who are victims of hate crimes to
get any legal recourse because the state's hate crimes law does not include
sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Contrary to SB1965’s assertions, the federal hate crimes law does not infringe on
freedom of speech or religion. The federal hate crimes law instead expressly
protects the 1st Amendment and defines hate crimes as acts of physical violence,
not the exercise of free speech or thought.