Capitol religious marker backed
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
4/21/09 at 3:17 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate passed a measure Monday that would allow for construction of a 10 Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds.
House Bill 1330 passed by a vote of 37-9. The measure heads to a conference committee.
Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, is the Senate author. Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, is the House author.
Private funds would be used to construct the monument.
However, the Attorney General's Office, which receives state funding, would be required to defend the measure if there is a legal challenge.
"We are going to spend a lot of money on this and lose," said Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah.
Wilson said the state constitution bans spending money on religious items.
Brogdon said the U.S. Supreme Court has approved similar monuments. The legislation is based on a Texas law which withstood a challenge, he said.
Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, suggesting amending the measure to require that private funds be used if there is a challenge. The measure did not get amended on the Senate floor.
Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, called the measure "hypocritical" at a time when a proposed plaza recognizing the contributions of African Americans has yet to be built on the Capitol grounds.
A measure extending a panel to get it built with private funds did not get a hearing, Johnson said.
Proposals such as the 10 Commandments monument "continue to incite those who are uneducated about the real issues going on in Oklahoma," said Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre, D-Tulsa.
Brogdon, who is running for governor, said the 10 Commandments have a historical significance.
McIntyre called the issue a political ploy to aid in his bid for governor.
She said the issue appeals to those interested in wedge issues and little else. If the subject matter is "not about God, gays or guns," a segment of society is not interested in it, Eason-McIntyre said.
The measure does nothing but "perpetuate division," Eason-McIntyre said.
Brogdon said he sponsors measures he truly believes in.
Barbara Hoberock (405) 528-2465