Gay Friendly Companies Told Stay Out Of Oklahoma

Tue. May 11, 2004 12:00 AM by

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - A national ad campaign that began running Monday in USA Today is advising corporations not to relocate in Oklahoma.

Headlined "Oklahoma Going Out of Business" the featured a map of the state with a "closed" sign hanging from it.

"Companies thinking of relocating to or doing business in Oklahoma should look hard at Oklahoma's worsening culture of intolerant exclusion and its resulting brain and talent drain," the half page ad said.

"Studies show that a state's level of tolerance for its gay and lesbian citizens directly impacts its success in attracting the talented people and creative atmosphere essential for economic growth in today's competitive marketplace," the $100,000 said ad which appeared in the paper's Money section.

The ad was sponsored by LGBT civil rights group Cimarron Equality Oklahoma in response to a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex relationships. The amendment proposal passed the legislature last month and will be put to voters in November.

The amendment would define marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibit the state from recognizing unions, including civil unions, performed in other states.

Supporters of the amendment called the ad economic extortion and predicted it would backfire.

"There is a real hunger for a return to traditional values and for leaders who will draw a line in the sand to help stop the moral decay of this country," state Sen. James Williamson (R-Tulsa) told the Oklahoman.

Williamson challenged Democratic Gov. Brad Henry and Democratic legislative leaders to join him in "condemning Cimarron Equality Oklahoma and their radical agenda."

Henry's office issued a comment criticizing the ad as unhelpful to state economic development efforts, but it did not comment on Williamson's challenge.

200 of the Fortune 500 companies now provide domestic partner plans.

"They have done so because it creates a competitive edge for these large companies," said Terry Gatewood, chairman of Cimarron Equality Oklahoma.

"They will be unwilling to open or expand operations in a state that is hostile to the principles that they have adopted for the running of their business," Gatewood said.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce recruits nationally but has no position on the marriage amendment. Chamber Vice President Cynthia Reid, however, criticized the ad saying that the issue should have stayed within the state.

"We do think it is unfortunate that the group would choose to take this discussion outside our state boundaries to a national audience," she told the paper.

"The growth of the economic environment is important to all Oklahomans, and discouraging businesses from considering our state is in no one's best interest."

©® 2004

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.