Oklahoma celebrates its centennial this year. One would think that with 93% of the state's history having occurred in the 20th Century there wouldn't be much in the way of frontier left to discover in the 21st.
However, Oklahoma is full of surprises both on the regressive and progressive sides of the historical coin. Here's one of those progressive surprises:
In mid-May Governor Brad Henry appointed Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth to fill a vacancy on the state's Corporation Commission.
This is a very important position in Oklahoma for both the citizens and the corporations doing business in the state such as utilities, oil and gas companies, and transportation.
Mr. Roth is a remarkable man in his mid-thirties with a razor sharp mind, an affable personality, a desire to help improve the lives of others, and a happy home-life with his partner of seven years, Worth Ross.
Just how remarkable is Mr. Roth's appointment? It was made by a very conservative Democratic governor who should probably be registered as an Independent such is his bi-partisan style of dealing with the state legislature.
It remains to be seen how the rural voters in Oklahoma will view an openly gay man running for state-wide office.
Mr. Roth often says that his family goes beyond the biological and that officeholders should be held accountable by the voters for how well the job is done, not by who they love.
The voters who elected Mr. Roth to his first term as county commissioner re-hired him with a 65% majority for a second term.
The 2008 election will be important for Mr. Roth as he will be required to run a state-wide campaign for election to a two-year term and again in 2010 for a six-year term. Mr. Roth and his campaign workers will need to be full of the pioneering spirit as they get the rest of Oklahoma acquainted with the future.
The flat earth view of many in Oklahoma will be made all the rounder with Mr. Roth in office.