Under a proposed bill introduced in Oklahoma, couples in the state wanting to get married would be required to prove they don’t have any sexually transmitted infections before making it to the altar.
Senate Bill 733, introduced by Oklahoma Sen. Anthony Sykes (R), stipulates that:
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.” In order to obtain the license, the couple would need to submit a certificate or affidavit from a licensed physician that confirms neither of them are infected with a disease that “may be communicable to the marriage partner.”
As the bill is currently written, if either partner tests positive, they may not be permitted to get married.
Sykes’ supporters say this the legislation will help ensure that people know their STD status. But legal experts in the state are concerned that the legislation would goes too far to infringe on Americans’ private medical information, which is supposed to be protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
By requiring potential newlyweds to file these documents with the court clerk before getting married, the results of their STD test would then become public information.
According to federal health officials, the United States does face an ongoing epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, with higher rates than in any other industrialized country in the world. But it’s unclear how requiring STD tests before a marriage ceremony would address the issue.
The practice of requiring blood tests to check both partners for venereal disease or measles before they wed has largely been eliminated. Only a few states still ask for any blood work as part of the marriage license application.
Oklahoma lawmakers are currently trying to regulate marriage in other ways, too, which is leading some to believe that the real reason for this bill may be part of a larger moral agenda.
Just this week, a legislative committee approved a bill that would punish local or state employees for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and prohibit taxpayer dollars from going toward any activities that support marriage equality.
The state has also recently sparked considerable controversy over a proposed measure that would ban Advanced Placement U.S. History classes and instead require students to focus on a list of “foundational documents” — including the Ten Commandments, two sermons, and three speeches delivered by Ronald Reagan.
Grio fam, do you agree with suspicions that Oklahoma’s motives aren’t STD prevention after all?
Let us know what you think.