MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

March 25, 2014

House panels OKs new monument for Oklahoma Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) —  A plan to erect a privately funded monument of the U.S. Bill of Rights at the Oklahoma Capitol came one step closer to fruition on Wednesday.

The House States’ Rights Committee voted 9-3 for the bill by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, which authorizes the Capitol Preservation Commission to place the monument on the Capitol grounds.

The measure next goes to the full House for consideration.

The bill is being pushed by an Arizona group dedicated to erecting monuments to the U.S. Bill of Rights at town squares and state Capitols across the country.

“I just think it’s a great reminder for all of our citizens of the unique privileges and rights we enjoy here in the U.S.,” Anderson said. “There has been a lot of debate over the Ten Commandments monument here at the Capitol, but if it wasn’t for the Bill of Rights ... we wouldn’t have the opportunity to have those debates.”

The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Legislature authorized in 2009 the placement of a privately funded Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol, and former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry signed the bill into law. It was placed on the north steps of the building last year, and the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to have it removed.

The Ten Commandments monument also prompted a New York-based group of Satanists to propose their own monument be erected at the Oklahoma Capitol. Officials with the Satanic

Similar requests for monuments have been made by a Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In response, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission placed a moratorium on considering any new requests, although the moratorium wouldn’t apply to monuments authorized by the Legislature.

Given the recent controversy over monuments at the statehouse, Rep. Mike Shelton said he decided to vote against the bill.

“I think there needs to be a process outside the Legislature that determines what goes on this property,” said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “When the Legislature gets involved with it, we’ve done a good job of messing stuff up.”

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