State Question 790 on this November’s ballot would remove a section of the Oklahoma State Constitution, known as a Blaine Amendment, which has been used to prevent groups with religious affiliations from competing for state funds -- even when the religiously-affiliated groups were providing the best services and not using the funds for proselytization.
The question was added to the ballot by a bi-partisan vote of 39-5 in the Oklahoma Senate and 65-7 in the House. A "YES" vote on Question 790 will remove the Blaine Amendment and a "NO" vote will leave it as is.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, ACLU, and Satanic Temple have been urging Oklahomans to vote NO on Question 790. Question 790 is being supported by bi-partisan majorities in the state legislature, the Oklahoma attorney general, former Governor Frank Keating, the Catholic Archbishop, Baptist pastors, and numerous faith-based non-profits and schools.
One of the primary motivations for the bi-partisan support for this ballot measure was a series of ugly lawsuits by secular groups against parents of disabled children and the Oklahoma Board of Education in Oklahoma, alleging that programs intended to improve service and access for children with disabilities violated the state’s Blaine Amendment.
The Blaine Amendment also received attention when it was used to force the removal of a statue of the 10 Commandments from the grounds of the State Capitol.
Question 790 would not affect the U.S. Constitutional prohibition against tax-payer money being used to support worship services or proselytization. Religiously affiliated service providers would also still be required to follow laws ensuring they did not discriminate in the delivery of services.
But if it is removed by Question 790, Blaine could no longer be used as an excuse to try and block tax-payer money from going to organizations that provided the best and most cost-effective services to Oklahoma residents, simply because those services are motivated by the provider's faith.