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M. Scott Carter
M. Scott Carter

M. Scott Carter reports on politics, legislation and other issues from the State Capitol.

Republican lawmakers, chafing after the U.S. Supreme Court shot down bans on same-sex marriage and upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, could push back with new bills in the 2016 session, two state lawmakers said Tuesday.

The proposals could come in the form of resolutions denouncing the rulings and bills aimed at protecting those who would oppose same-sex marriage, the lawmakers said. The moves would also appeal to many Republicans’ conservative base during the 2016 election cycle.

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State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said he expected legislation in 2016 about both issues.

“I think you’ll see a handful of bills targeting same-sex marriage and possibly, Obamacare,” Loveless said. “There will be probably be resolutions condemning the ruling, and I would expect legislation on same-sex marriage that would protect public officials, such as county clerks, from lawsuits.”

Both rulings have drawn complaints from business and religious leaders. In his dissent to the court’s 5-4 ruling on same sex marriage, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said he was concerned that religiously affiliated groups, such as colleges or adoption agencies, could be forced to recognize same-sex marriages.

“There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court,” he wrote

Republican political consultant Pat McFerron, who has worked as a consultant on dozens of state legislative races, said the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage will remain an issue for GOP lawmakers and candidates.

“Keep in mind the court’s rulings unsettled many Oklahomans,” said Republican political consultant Pat McFerron. “And with 2016 being an election year, it’s probably a good bet that some legislation will be filed.”

McFerron said he also expected federal legislation that would attack provisions of the health-care law, which expanded requirements for small businesses with between 50 and 100 employees.

“I’m expecting legislation that would address small employers,” he said.

State Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, agreed. Virgin, who supported the high court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, said Republican lawmakers weren’t finished with the issue.

“Last session we saw all sorts of legislation targeting the LGBT community,” she said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see more, especially resolutions condemning the court’s ruling.”

Virgin said she expects to see more legislation designed to insulate those who don’t agree with same-sex marriage from lawsuits. She pointed to a statement by state Attorney General Scott Pruitt that indicated Pruitt would continue to fight same-sex marriage.

In his statement, Pruitt called the court’s ruling “unacceptable” and said his office would “fight at every turn to protect the religious liberties of Oklahomans.”

The second session of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature will open in February 2016.

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