Thousands have sent e-mails criticizing state Rep. Sally Kern for comments that were posted on the Internet in which she calls homosexuality "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam," the legislator said today.
"The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation; it's just a fact," Kern is heard saying on a YouTube audio segment posted Friday.
"I honestly think it's the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam," Kern is heard saying on the Web site.
The Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an Oklahoma City-based group, has sent a letter to House Speaker Chris Benge stating that Kern, R-Oklahoma City, "must apologize or be censured by the House of Representatives."
Benge, R-Tulsa, has no comment on the letter, his spokeswoman said today.
Kern said today she does not plan to apologize nor does she think her fellow legislators would censure her.
Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said she has received more than 3,000 critical e-mails and hundreds of angry phone calls since her comments were posted on YouTube late last week.
Kern, a former social studies teacher in the Oklahoma City School District, said the e-mails to her office often have been vulgar.
"I heard what you said and you should be killed ... along with George W. Bush!" read one e-mail sent to Kern. "Christianity is the cancer in our society and should be eliminated."
The Cimarron Alliance Foundation issued a posting today on its Web site asking people not to send hate mail to Kern.
Kern said she told a gathering outside the Capitol recently about efforts by gay rights groups to target conservatives in recent elections.
"I said nothing that was not true, I said nothing out of hate and I don't believe my colleagues will censure me," Kern said today.
"I was speaking about the homosexual activists who are aggressively funding pro-homosexual candidates against conservative Republicans," Kern said. "In 2006, they targeted conservatives across the nation, mostly at the state and local levels. They took out 50 of them."
Kern said she was talking to "grassroots individuals who are Republicans."
Someone apparently taped her comments and they ended up on YouTube, sparking reaction from across the country.
"Representative Kern's secretive hate words made to a small group of about 50 people are now being heard and judged by millions of Americans," wrote Richard Ogden, chairman of the Cimarron Alliance Foundation. "These words are on YouTube and millions more Americans will hear her hateful words."
Kern often has opposed homosexuality
Kern has not been shy in her criticism of homosexuality during her nearly four years as a state legislator.
Elected to the House in 2004, Kern has led efforts to block state funding for libraries that did not segregate books with homosexual or sexually explicit material from children's sections. She also proposed a measure that would have allowed teachers across the state to teach a range of scientific views on the theory of evolution.
Neither measure passed.
"Most Oklahomans are socially conservative and believe marriage is a sacred institution, the union of one man and one woman, and that the traditional family is worth protecting and preserving," Kern said in a statement Monday. "When I campaigned for office, I promised my constituents to stand up for those values, and I do not apologize for keeping my word."
In 2006, Kern introduced House Bill 2158: Supporters said parents should decide whether their children can have access to these books. The bill would have required the state Board of Libraries to withhold state funding if a public library does not comply with the new regulations. Opponents said the legislation was too subjective and would cost libraries — especially those in rural areas with limited staff — money and time.
The House passed the measure, 60-33. It died in the Senate.
Also that year, she introduced HB 2107, a measure that would have allowed teachers across the state to teach a range of scientific views on the theory of evolution. Supporters said the change would have given teachers the academic freedom to present the scientific debate on evolution; then students could think critically about the views and form their own opinions. Critics said it was a veiled way to bring religion into the classroom and teach intelligent design, which supposes that the universe is the work of an "intelligent cause."
The House passed the bill, 77-10. It died in the Senate.
In 2005, her first year as a legislator, Kern introduced House Resolution 1039, which urged library officials to restrict children's access to books with homosexual themes. It states that Oklahoma libraries should "confine homosexually themed books and other age-inappropriate material to areas exclusively for adult access and distribution."
Kern said at the time she wanted to make public libraries aware of the "values that our state upholds" and make sure books are on the shelves "where they appropriately need to be."
Opponents said the measure was censorship and was an attempt to control what decisions people have the right to make on their own.
The resolution passed, 81-3.
This session, Kern is among the authors of HB 2211, called the Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act. Among other things it states students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork and other assignments "free from discrimination based on the religious content."