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Press Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Keith Kimmel
Ph: 405.795.3800
E-mail: keithontap@gmail.com

(Norman, OK) Keith Kimmel, the man who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the State of Oklahoma’s Tax Commission to secure a personalize license plate, says he was the victim of a gay bashing at the hands of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department this weekend and has filed a complaint.

On Monday March 29, 2009, he filed a complaint by US Mail with the Internal Affairs Department of the Tulsa Police Department, claiming that he had been dragged across a parking lot, punched in the testicles and verbally assaulted by officers of The Tulsa Police Department after being involved in a fight at a Tulsa gay bar. The complaint included pictures of injuries Kimmel sustained in the incident. The complaint was filed by mail after Kimmel was unable to reach the Internal Affairs Department all day by telephone to find out how it could be faxed or e-mailed. “I would like to get this information into the hands of the Internal Affairs Officers as early as possible, but I have tried calling all day and have been directed to voicemail. I tried calling various other offices within the department, but they continually redirect me back to the Internal Affairs number that no one answers”, Kimmel said.

Kimmel says he isn’t sure if the incident comes as retaliation for his earlier suit against the state. “I do not know if someone in the Tulsa Police Department has taken it upon themselves to dole out justice in their own way because of the suit, but what I do know is there has been alot of media coverage about the case in Tulsa, and I think its something that should at least be looked into. Regardless of why it happened, it was completely unacceptable and unprofessional. I am currently seeking the advice of an attorney on the matter and will pursue the internal complaint procedure of the Tulsa Police Department to the fullest extent possible in the meantime.”

In the complaint, Kimmel asks the Tulsa Police Department to utilize the recently passed federal hate crimes legislation to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help investigate the incident, despite the fact that Oklahoma State Senator Steve Russell has recently introduced legislation designed to allow Oklahoma to “opt out” of the new law. “Senator Russell may belive that the protections of the new federal hate crimes law are not needed here in Oklahoma, but I think I have just learned how sorely they are needed in a very personal way. This is not an issue where TPD should be allowed to investigate itself, an unbiased party should be brought into to examine the incident throughly and through an unbiased lens.”

A copy of Kimmel’s complaint may be downloaded in Adobe PDF format (6.17 MB) by going to: http://files.me.com/keithkimmel/l4g041.

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I have not been blogging (or doing much of anything else) as I have been suffering from a bout of toothaches and headaches lately. I think I may have an impacted tooth, which means a visit to Dr. Drill n Fill is in my future soon. Those are always fun. Not.

I just finished up an interview on Sirius/XM for The Jay Thomas Show, which was kind of a crazy, but fun show. We talked about the plate case and they had callers suggest plates I could get and we also kinda had a “Ask the Gay Guy” segment. They had a caller come and ask me if I had ever gotten poo on my wong, which was kinda disgusting. Thats why you always check your boys before you do them, folks. Always, always inspect that ass. Hey, this advice goes for you straight boys, too. Always look before you insert your roll of quarters in the vending machine.

Its St. Pattys Day, so tonight I’ll be going to End Up in Tulsa to hand out with my boy (hes dancing tonight, gotta support the home team) and I bought a new green shirt just for the occasion. The fun starts at 8 PM, hope you to see some of you there. I know Chris and Gary will be there.

So in other news, The Oklahoma Supreme Court has admonished the legislature yet again for seeking to enact and enforce unconstitutional legislation. You’d think they would have gotten the hint after the first dozen times. I also finally got tired of answering e-mails from folks asking about the plate case, so I posted an update to the site for the plate case. I wasted about twenty minutes of my life and read the drivel on The Advocate about the train wreck that is Johnny Weir. I think he is really is a brat. A cute one, though.

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This is the third update to a developing story I’ve been following for a while now. See the first two parts here and here. The following letter was received from Ed Payton, a member of the Union School District’s Board who voted in favor of keeping “Buster’s Sugartime” on shelves at the school’s libraries, a move which is now making national news. The e-mail was sent from the celebrityattractions.com domain, which appears to be a Payton family business in Tulsa that includes a theater.

Here is the message I received this morning:

This email is being sent to everyone who communicated their opinion to me regarding the recent Union Board of Education decision about the book, ‘Buster’s Sugartime’.

This process reminded me how fortunate we are at Union to have Administrators who clearly demonstrated their commitment to our students and their respect for Union parents.

I was one of three board members who voted to retain the book in our library. I did so because, after careful consideration, I did not believe it was a book advocating any illegal behavior, or particular lifestyle. Rather, it was a book that provided an opportunity for new readers to improve their reading skills, while expanding their understanding of the world around them.

I would like to correct a perception expressed by a few of you who made remarks in your email about the parents who request the book’s removal (‘homophobic’, ‘narrow-minded’, ‘censors’, etc). From my direct experience with these parents during the hearing, those criticisms do not apply. The parents were reasonable individuals, who presented their concerns in a respectful and thoughtful manner. Their concerns did not appear to emanate from a religious or political agenda, but rather from practical parenting. They felt it inappropriate for a kindergartener [sic] to be able to check out a book which contains references to a same sex couple living in a civil union when such a union is illegal in Oklahoma. While I disagree with that position, I can still appreciate their concernn [sic]. Nothing in their presentation indicated that these individuals are homophobic, book banners or book burners. In fact, they stated that this book would be totally appropriate in any state where civil unions or gay marriages were recognized.

If we are ever to move beyond the rancor and raised voices that too often accompany discussions related to this and other ‘hot-button’ issues, we must all learn the respect, civility and good manners that were exhibited by the Union Administrators and the Parents in this situation.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I am more convinced than ever that the Board made the correct decision, and am equally convinced that the kindergartner [sic] in this matter is fortunate to have parents as engaged as these two.

Ed. L. Payton

The following is a response that I filed with Ed by e-mail:

Hi Ed,

First off, thanks for voting to keep the book in the Union school
libraries. I’m glad that you did the right thing. Second, thank you for writing and providing those of us who could not attend the Board Meeting with insight into the thoughts behind your votes.

I agree with you wholeheartedly where you stated that we are fortunate that the Board has folks on it now who listened to students, teachers and others who commented on the item in question. A few years ago, there is a good chance we might not be where we are today and the school district might find itself on the business end of an expensive lawsuit. I’m glad to see that we have made such progress, it gives me hope for a state that some consider hopeless.

However, I’d like to point out that while the parents may indeed have presented their concerns in a professional and respectful manner, the concern they presented was indicative of a homophobic point of view. They were asking you and your fellow board members to remove from view a display of homosexuality that they found offensive for no reason other than the fact that it was homosexual in nature. That, by definition, is homophobia.

There are two types of homophobes: those who are uneducated and scream at the top of their lungs about how the sodomites must be removed from society, that they are going to hell, ad nauseum. The second group is quite educated and presents their homophobia in a much less obnoxious manner. Its the kinder, gentler homophobia and its much more dangerous because those people are smart enough to pass their homophobia off as
a legitimate concern. It looks to me like the parents in this
situation fall squarely into the second group.

The legality or lack thereof of same-sex unions in Oklahoma is
irrelevant to the matter at hand. This is an attempt to tie
homosexuality to an illegal act in an effort to distract from the
issue at hand while demonizing homosexuals. Our Supreme Court has already spoken on this issue and they were quite clear. Homosexuality is not illegal and the people who practice it (regardless of whether folks believe its a choice or the way they are) are not second class citizens. They are entitled to the same rights and the same exposure in the media as everyone else, including the books found in public school libraries.

Not all viewpoints are equal and some are just plain wrong. How can one tell the difference? Simply substitute “same sex” and “homosexual” (and other similar terms) with “mixed race couple” and “African American”. If this same parent came to your Board and asked for this book to be removed because it depicted an African American and a Cacasion being together, would the parents have even been given the time of day by the District? I highly doubt that they would have.

This is how to look at something and find out whats really behind the concern. People often say one thing while doing and meaning another. Its human nature to be manipulative and use false fronts to achieve our goals in life. So were the parents in this case really worried just about protecting kids from indecent material, or making sure that their kids never learn that homosexuality exists and has a legitimate place in our society?

If you have further questions about my comments here, or the ones I filed initially, please feel free to call me anytime at 405.886.5095. As one of the thousands of homosexuals who call Oklahoma my home, I’m always happy to reach out to our elected and appointed leadership to increase understanding of and on issues that are important to me.

It is interesting to note that because of the manner in which the e-mail was sent, I was able to ascertain the e-mail address of each recipient of the letter.  There were a mere 31 people that Ed sent his letter to. So, if he sent it to everyone who e-mailed a comment and since its unlikely there was time for replies to be sent in by mail or delivered personally to the Board, it looks like only those who e-mailed were heard from by the board. The Board did not accept in-person comments at its meeting.

A mere 31 letters were enough for this district to get the message loud and clear. That further assumes that all of the letters were in favor of our position, which its unlikely that they all were. So in this case, the time 31 people took to write a letter to their elected officials, forever changed Oklahoma for the better. I’m proud to know at least two of those people personally, as I recognize their e-mail addresses amongst the recipients.

I’m very proud of our community right now, thanks for everyone who took the time to write in. It very clearly did make a difference!

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The blizzard of e-mails to the Union School District produced results this evening, as the district voted to keep copies of “Buster’s Sugartime,” by Marc Brown on shelves. Special thanks to the fine folks at Oklahomans for Equality for getting the word out about this.

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Just got the following urgent message from Oklahomans for Equality, I’m passing it on here as a public service. Lets go, go, go – we only have a couple of hours to get e-mails in!

Oklahomans for Equality is monitoring a possible book banning issue developing in the Union Public School District of Tulsa County.

The book is “Buster’s Sugartime” by author Marc Brown which was on an episode of the “Postcards from Buster” series on PBS.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Union Public Schools Education Service Center located at 8506 E. 61st St. The board will decide whether to remove the book or possibly limit access to it. This will not be a public forum where people can speak. No public comments will be allowed.

The Board of Education is addressing the situation after a parent brought their concerns to the district’s Materials Review Committee. The committee chose to keep the book on library shelves. The parent was opposed to the depiction of a child with two parents of the same gender. The parent has appealed the committee’s decision to the Union Public School Board.

Nancy McDonald president of PFLAG Tulsa says ” Our society embraces all kinds of families. Those “families” take on many different combinations such as, opposite sex, single parent, grandparents, same-sex and those families can be made up of different races, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual orientation. It is so important that young children have opportunities to see “their” families displayed in reading materials, movies, plays, print, and to know that the most important thing is that they are loved, cared for, and valued no matter what their family structure is.”

Please contact the Union Public School Board Secretary Beverly Thummel by emailing thummel.beverly@unionps.org. Your email will be shared with the Union School Board so be polite and respectful in your tone. If you are in the District 9 Independent Union School District please include that in your correspondence. Please refrain from calling the District’s office.

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