It's a story that sounds like something that could have happen in Virginia given the state's general contempt for LGBT citizens, but instead comes from Oklahoma, another rabid anti-LGBT state. When a transgendered petitioner came before the Oklahoma County District Court seeking a name change, Judge Bill Graves (pictured at right) not only denied the petition - bizarrely claiming it was fraudulently motivated - but went off on a tirade citing the Bible and condemning the petitioner. It's a shining example of what life in a red state - or a slightly purple state like Virginia - can entail when judges feel free to allow their personal religious beliefs trump the U. S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom for all. Gay Star News looks at this unfortunate circumstance. Here are highlights:
An Oklahoma judge has sparked fury after not allowing transgender people to change their names legally.
Local newspaper The Oklahoman reports Oklahoma County district judge Bill Graves, a former state legislator, cited the Bible in disallowing the name changes, claiming trans people are ‘making the changes for fraudulent purposes’.
Last year, in an order denying a name change, Graves said: ‘A so called sex- change surgery can make one appear to be the opposite sex, but in fact they are nothing more than an imitation of the opposite sex.’ ‘To grant a name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,’ Graves added.
‘It is notable Genesis 1:27-28 states: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” ‘The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.’
Two transgender women, who wish to be called Christie Harvey and Angela Ingram, are trying to appeal Graves’ decision.
Other judges told the newspaper they routinely allow anyone to change their name, transgender or otherwise, and Graves was acting on a discriminatory basis.
Before becoming a judge, Graves was a Republican state representative who pushed for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Sitting on the bench, he objected to a proposal that would bar judges from membership in organizations which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Furious civil rights campaigners created a petition, saying if Graves is unwilling to follow the law, he should be resign from office. It states: ‘Judge Graves has no right to make his ruling on constitutionally prohibited religious grounds. His actions are a violation of due process, equal protection and the First Amendment.’
If you would like to sign the petition, click here
Obviously, Graves needs to be removed from the bench if he cannot put his own bigotry and hatred behind him when hearing cases. This is yet another example of how screwed up our judicial system is when the outcome of a case often hinges on the judge one draws. There is ZERO assurance of equal treatment under the law.