Oklahoma State Senator Anthony Sikes recently authored a bill that would not only require screening for sexually transmitted diseases (“STD”) as a prerequisite to obtaining a marriage license, it would deny the license altogether if one partner has been diagnosed with having an STD. If enacted, Senate Bill 733, the state Department of Health will be directed to require blood tests “for the discovery of syphilis and other communicable or infectious diseases” before a marriage license can issue. Furthermore, the law will require that, in order for a marriage license to issue, both partners must provide documentation from a physician stating that they are either not “infected” or, if they are “infected,” that the disease is not “communicable” to the other partner.
Although Fox23 News reports that Senator Anthony Sikes was “not available to comment,” the executive director of Tulsa Cares, a local nonprofit organization, has already pointed out that the proposed law will only increase fears about HIV without impacting the spread of the disease. What’s more, the law will almost certainly face challenges under patient privacy laws and the American Disabilities Act. While it remains to be seen whether the Bill will move forward in the Oklahoma State Legislature, it raises concerns about the politicization of serious public health issues.