About 300 people gathered during the noon hour today at the state Capitol to ask state Rep. Sally Kern to apologize for calling homosexuality the biggest threat to America.
The Rev. Jim Shields, a retired United Methodist minister who lives in Kern's district that covers parts of west Oklahoma City and Bethany, called on the Republican legislator to hold meetings in the district to talk with gays and Muslims.
If Kern doesn't do those things, then she should resign, said the Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards, assistant pastor of the Open Arms United Church of Christ and president of the Oklahoma City chapter of PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Kern, a Republican, was not in the Capitol during the 40-minute event in the first-floor rotunda. The House adjourned about 10 a.m. after a one-hour session today.
No state representatives were seen at the rally. Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, watched for a while from the second floor.
Someone taped a speech Kern made in January to a Republican club in Oklahoma City and sent it to a national gay rights group. Kern said earlier that the speech was about 30 minutes; a segment of about three minutes was posted about 10 days ago on YouTube.
Since then, about 1 million people have played the comments.
Kern's legislative assistant said today the legislator has received about 26,000 e-mails since her comments were posted on the Internet.
Her comments include calling homosexuality "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam."
"The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation; it's just a fact," Kern is heard saying on the YouTube clip.
Rob Howard, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an Oklahoma City group, asked House Speaker Chris Benge to demand that Kern apologize and that the Legislature act on four comprehensive hate crimes bills that failed to advance out of committee.
Benge, R-Tulsa, said last week he has no plans to punish Kern, saying Kern has a right to express her opinion.
Howard said freedom of speech does not belong to just Kern.
"The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has the right to disagree publicly with Sally Kern," he said. "In fact, it is our moral imperative."