Culture & the Family

Ray Carter | March 29, 2022

Paycom provides $100,000 to transgender causes, lawsuit

Ray Carter

Oklahoma-based Paycom has provided $50,000 to help fund a lawsuit that seeks to force Oklahoma state government to issue birth certificates listing genders other than “male” or “female,” and has provided another $50,000 to an organization that opposes Oklahoma legislation restricting women’s athletic events to biological females.

“As an HR technology leader that practices diversity, inclusion, belonging and civility, we believe in supporting human rights initiatives, which includes the LGBTQ+ community’s quest for civil liberties,” a recent Paycom announcement declared. “Therefore, we are contributing $50,000 to Lambda Legal to fund its challenge to an executive order prohibiting transgender Oklahomans to fix their birth certificates. In addition, Paycom is donating $50,000 to The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, to support greater understanding of human rights and provide messages of equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

“This is just another continuation of our diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives as we extend the equitable environment we’ve worked so hard to create here at Paycom,” the message continued. “Aside from it being the right thing to do, a diverse and inclusive environment is proven to drive better business results.”

Earlier this month, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma that challenged an executive order issued by Gov. Kevin Stitt that limited the genders that can be listed on Oklahoma birth certificates to “male” and “female.” Stitt issued the executive order following public outcry after it was revealed that the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) had quietly entered into a court settlement and agreed to issue birth certificates with additional genders listed. Legislative leaders said the OSDH settlement violated state law.

“Other people have access to birth certificates that match who they are, but the government has singled out transgender people to take away their ability to access birth certificates that match who they are,” Lambda Legal senior attorney Shelly Skeen said. “Inaccurate identity documents rob transgender people of control over their privacy by involuntarily ‘outing’ them to others.”

However, a 2015 report cited by Lambda Legal when announcing its lawsuit against Oklahoma, “The Report of the 2015 Transgender Survey” conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, showed it is rare for individuals to change the gender listed on their birth certificate in most states. The report found that of those who wanted to change the gender on their birth certificate, only an estimated 9 percent were able to do so.

In 2018, Lambda Legal also voiced its opposition to a law that protects private adoption agencies affiliated with religious entities from having to violate their religious beliefs as part of the process. The law kept Catholic or Baptist agencies, for example, from having to facilitate adoptions to gay couples.

Supporters of the law noted such couples could still adopt children in Oklahoma through other providers and warned that fewer adoption agencies would be involved if the state did not protect the religious rights of those entities.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies ought not have to choose between providing children with loving families and following their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage and family.”

Anthony Jordan, former executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said, “In Oklahoma, now is the time to ensure equal opportunity and protection for individuals and groups involved in foster care and adoption. Indeed the very survival and future of such organizations depends upon it.”

Despite the continued availability of adoptive services to LGBT couples, Lambda Legal declared the adoption measure was a “license-to-discriminate bill.” Currey Cook, counsel and director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project at Lambda Legal declared that the law “gives special permission to religiously-affiliated government-funded child welfare agencies to place the agencies’ beliefs” above other concerns.

In similar fashion, The Trevor Project has opposed recent legislation in Oklahoma, including Senate Bill 2, which says that only biological females may compete in women’s sporting events.

Sam Ames, director for Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project, declared SB 2 and similar measures were “part of a coordinated strategy to use trans youth as political pawns.”

History of Political Involvement

Paycom’s involvement with the Lambda Legal lawsuit is only the latest example of how the company and its CEO, Chad Richison, have become active in Oklahoma state politics in recent years.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Paycom officials or individuals who appear to be related to or live with Paycom employees contributed $43,500 in donations to the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Joy Hofmeister, who is seeking the nomination to oppose incumbent Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in the 2022 general election.

In a public letter released in March 2020, Richison called for temporary closure of a range of businesses, “which includes, but is not limited to, hair salons, nail salons, spas and massage parlors,” as part of the state’s COVID response. He also endorsed requiring grocery stores to provide “drive-thru pick up or delivery for all customers,” and mandating that undefined “critical” businesses be required to coordinate “with state government.” Richison also called on state government to mandate how “food preparation and other critical portions of the supply chain” are handled under undefined “newly established uniform standards to prevent transmission of the virus.” Richison also called for postponement of so-called “elective surgeries” and endorsed having the government collect “all essential medical supplies” normally used for those surgeries or by “med spas and other medical organizations.” And Richison called for a ban on “all non-essential” travel from Oklahoma airports.

In August 2021, Richison released a statement calling for repeal of Senate Bill 658, which allowed parents to choose whether or not their children wear a mask at school.

In a March 3, 2020 letter to the University of Oklahoma’s board of regents, Richison wrote that the university’s “previous diversity training efforts failed because they assured free speech protection.” He announced Paycom was yanking advertising from the school and called for OU to “put inclusion and diversity at the core for all Oklahomans, including the state’s flagship institution.”

In a Nov. 27, 2017 letter, Richison criticized former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and former Gov. Frank Keating, characterizing them as working “against our future with constant negative rhetoric and no workable solutions” because the two state leaders publicly urged lawmakers not to raise taxes at a time when Oklahoma’s working families had already experienced a massive loss of income and jobs.

In 2021, Paycom announced it would be the lead sponsor for “Advancing Oklahoma,” a program offered to the members of Leadership Oklahoma, The Oklahoma Academy, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice, and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

The program, described as “a lengthy conversation about race and race relations in Oklahoma,” has since featured a speaker who declared there is “a very high correlation between the most racist attitudes in America and white evangelical Christianity” and another speaker who said, “People bristle when they say, ‘America is a racist country.’ The question then becomes, ‘What makes you so uncomfortable with that concept?’” The program has also featured a speaker who endorsed “defund the police” efforts.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs sought comment from Paycom on the two $50,000 donations, but as of publication no response had been provided.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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