The Tulsa City Council is getting ready to vote on whether to expand the city's definition of hate crimes.
Members of the LGBTQ community said it’s overdue for them to be protected under hate crime laws. The proposal would add a section including malicious harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity to Tulsa’s hate crime ordinance.
"It's like the secret that nobody wants to talk about," said Toby Jenkins.
Toby Jenkins with the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center said the secret's out now that Councilor Krista Patrick is working to change Tulsa's hate crime ordinance. On Wednesday, the Tulsa City Council will vote on the proposed amendment to add Section 410 to Title 27, under "Offenses Against The Person."
It would identify malicious harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression as a hate crime. Jenkins said he’s been targeted because of his sexual orientation.
"The whole time they're screaming slurs at me, and they're hitting me with a bottle in my head standing in this parking lot, yet under Oklahoma law, under the city of Tulsa's laws and ordinances, that's not a hate crime,” said Jenkins.
Jose Emmanuel Vega with Oklahomans For Equality said he's been targeted because of his race and sexual orientation. He said someone shattered his windshield, slashed his tires, and physically assaulted him.
"He opened the door, spit on me, attacked me from inside my car, which I felt very vulnerable,” said Vega. “That put me in constant fear and back into the closest."
Jenkins said the LGBTQ community feels like it's time for enhanced penalties and a pathway to justice.
"That needs to be retrained, it needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Jenkins said.
If the amendment passes, any substantial harm would still be prosecuted under state charges.
For Wednesday’s Tulsa City Council Agenda, click here.
For more information about the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, click here.
To see the current ordinance, click here.