Earlier this month, the first openly gay politician to hold a statewide office in Oklahoma, Jim Roth, was assaulted by three men outside of a popular Oklahoma honky-tonk. Roth and his supporters are insisting it is a hate crime, though Oklahoma City police master sergeant Gary Knight hasn't classified the crime as a hateful one just yet, stating, "It's definitely an assault case. That's what we’re working is an assault." While there is evidence of a slight altercation within the bar between Roth and a man who was shouting anti-gay comments at the public servant, police say there is still not enough evidence to classify it as a hate crime.
Section 21-850 of Oklahoma Law strictly prohibits hate crimes, stating, "No person shall maliciously and with the specific intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin or disability." This includes physically assaulting another person, damaging of any person's property, and threats. Anyone who is found guilty of acting violently, threatening, or inciting violence will be found under the law as guilty of a misdemeanor on a first offense and a felony punishable by, at most, ten years of imprisonment.
Partners Against Hate, a collaboration of the the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and the Center for Preventing Hate define hate crimes as "an aggressive expression of prejudice against another person or group of people simply because of who and what they are." A recent FBI study found that hate crimes against LGBT persons have gone up 2.6% from last year, comprising 20.4% of the reported 6,222 hate crimes reported, making anti-gay hate crimes the second highest category. The same study found that of the anti-gay hate crimes, 56.7% were victims of an offender's anti-male homosexual bias.
While the police work out what happened to Roth in front of the honky-tonk and Oklahomans work for justice, the owner of the bar, Greg Seal, posted on Facebook a poster condemning the violence. He wrote "Hate is Not on the Tap at Grandad's...if you have a problem with another type of person....DO NOT COME HERE. We will not tolerate bigotry and hate. You don't have to love everyone who walks in the door like we do but you do have to tolerate them. Gay, straight, black, white, plumber, politician, whatever...let;s just all have a drink and be cool."