Oklahoma bill could block marriages if couple tests positive for STD

Reuters / Jay Paul

Reuters / Jay Paul

Oklahoma lawmakers continue to make headlines with controversial legislation, this time with a bill that could potentially prevent a couple from getting married if one partner tests positive for a sexually transmitted disease.

Introduced by Oklahoma
Sen. Anthony Sykes (R),
Senate Bill 733 would mandate that all couples
seeking a marriage license submit documentation confirming that
they were tested by a physician for syphilis and other sexually
transmitted diseases.

“The State Board of Health shall require a blood test for the
discovery of syphilis and other communicable or infectious
diseases prior to the issuance of a marriage license,”
proposed-legislation reads.

READ MORE: Oklahoma Republicans seek to ban AP
history as unpatriotic

The bill doesn’t stop there, however. It goes on to say that the
certificate filed by the couple needs to state that the couple is
either free of STDs or – in the event one partner tests positive
for a disease – that the disease is not at a stage where it can
be passed on to the other.

According to local News9.com, Sen. Kyle Loveless (R), who
supports the bill, acknowledged that with the way it is currently
written, couples who test positive could be denied a marriage

“The way that the bill is written, that is correct,”
Loveless said. “We have to look at that as a society whether
we want people who have communicable diseases, they need to know
if they have it, and I think this is a mechanism to provide them
to do that.”

He added that changes could be made to address the issue of what
happens when one or both members of the couple test positive. The
proposal is currently making its way to the Judiciary Committee,
though it’s unclear just how much support it has.

Still, the bill is drawing fire from opponents who view it as an
excessive and, ultimately, inefficient way to solve America’s STD
problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are about 19 million new infections
every year which cost some $17 billion to treat, but even if
implemented critics say the Oklahoma bill stands little chance of
shrinking instances of infection.

According to ThinkProgress, most Americans do not wait
until marriage to have sex,and while STDs are most problematic
for young people between 15 and 24 years old, the average age
that men and women are marrying at in the US is higher than that
– 27 years for women and 29 for men.

Additionally, privacy activists are crying foul over the fact
that the results of an STD test would be filed with the state
government and, thus, made public. This development would run
contrary to federal health laws, which protect patient privacy.

“This new law would require you to file with the court clerk
the results of this test which the whole world could see,”

Attorney David Slane said to News9.com. “It seems to me that
would violate people’s real privacy rights.”

The STD bill isn’t the only one raising eyebrows, either.
Recently Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed banning Advanced Placement US History classes
for being unpatriotic and have also suggested using gas chambers as backups for executions.

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