Oklahoma bill could block marriages if couple tests positive for STD

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 733would 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,” the 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 license.

“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.