Rep. Sally Kern says she does not plan to apologize for comments in which she calls homosexuality "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.” Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said she listened to about a minute of the audio that has been posted on the Internet and confirmed she made the comments, but that they were edited "without a doubt.” "They took a part here and stopped the recording and picked up this part and made it sound like it was one long tirade,” she said. "It is a blanket misrepresentation of what I was doing.” The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, sent letters to Gov. Brad Henry and to House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa. The Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an Oklahoma City-based group, has sent a letter to Benge stating that Kern "must apologize or be censured by the House of Representatives.” Benge has no comment on the letter or Kern's comments, his spokeswoman said late Monday. "The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation; it's just a fact,” Kern is heard saying on a YouTube audio segment. "I honestly think it's the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.” Rep. Al McAffrey, the Legislature's only openly gay member, said he was disappointed by his colleague's comments. "I resented the fact that she referred to myself and many of my friends that we're worse than terrorists,” said McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City. "She's referring to everyone that works there (at the state Capitol) that happens to have an alternative lifestyle because you're born that way that they're worse than terrorists.” Kern said she made the comments in January to a Republican club meeting away from the state Capitol. Kern, a former social studies teacher in the Oklahoma City School District, said she talked 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. "I was speaking about the homosexual activists who are aggressively funding pro-homosexual candidates against conservative Republicans. In 2006, they targeted conservatives across the nation, mostly at the state and local levels. They took out 50 of them.”
300,000 have played audio on Web siteChuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a nonpartisan group in Washington that supports gay elected officials, said Monday his organization received audio with Kern's comments a couple of weeks ago. She made the remarks during a GOP gathering that was open to the public in Oklahoma County, he said. He could not recall more specifics. On the audio clipping, Kern can be heard saying the homosexual lifestyle "has deadly consequences for those people involved in it.” "It is not a lifestyle that is not good for this nation. No society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades,” she said. Wolfe said the Victory Fund posted the comments on its Web site Friday; more than 300,000 have played the clip by Monday afternoon. "I was stunned and outraged,” Wolfe said. Equating terrorism with homosexuality "is just hate speech,” he said. The Cimarron Alliance Foundation, which posted the audio clipping on its Web site Monday, also issued a posting asking people not to send hate mail to Kern. Kern said she has received more than 7,000 critical e-mails and hundreds of angry telephone calls.
‘A higher calling'Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, who is openly gay, said America has room for diverse people and opinions. "But I also think a public official has a higher calling then to pursue divisions and demagoguery,” Roth said. "As a public official I've taken an oath to serve 100 percent of our citizens and I regret that Representative Kern doesn't show the same respect for 100 percent of her constituents.” Roth said comparing a "homosexual agenda” to terrorism is especially offensive. "Her outlandish comparison to the pain that terrorists cause demonstrates how her focus is skewed by her own bias,” Roth said. Contributing: Staff Writer Bryan Dean
Kern often has opposed homosexualityKern has not been shy in her criticism of homosexuality during her nearly four years as a state legislator. 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.” The resolution passed, 81-3. In 2006, Kern introduced House Bill 2158, which would have required the state Board of Libraries to withhold state funding if a public library does not segregate books with homosexual or sexually explicit material from children's sections. 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. The House passed the bill, 77-10. It died in the Senate. 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.” A House committee passed the measure. It is awaiting action on the House floor.