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Kern critics warn against using faith as wedge

By Devona Walker Modified: April 2, 2008 at 9:09 pm •  Published: April 2, 2008

"They told me he was a deeply religious man," Korenblit said, adding that his religious convictions led him to incontrovertible bravery and sacrifice.

Korenblit said his father was confused when he came to pre-civil rights movement Oklahoma, when segregated water fountains, restaurants and buses were commonplace.

"He couldn't understand. 'How could they come to Germany to save me, and then treat people within their own country this way?'

"But guess what, those colored water fountain signs came down, and this will too," he said.

Are attitudes changing?

Jeremy Howard, 30, a Norman businessman, said there is a generational element to Kern's words and the subsequent rhetoric that is neither relevant to younger generations nor will be tolerated in the future.

"Even as a good old boy from rural Oklahoma, who grew up in ignorance, I am now an indication that Oklahoma is on the upswing, and our attitudes reflect that change," Howard said. "As ugly as it was, this allows us to begin the dialogue about who we are as Oklahomans and what we believe in."

The small group of gay rights supporters spoke about how religious doctrine is interpreted differently and sometimes misinterpreted or used to wedge people apart.

They asked whether the Kern incident would have long-term consequences for a state trying to reinvent itself. In the end, they agreed past divisions would not play a part of the future.

"I think this Sally thing is a last gasp," Hamilton said.