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No penalty for remarks against gays

By Michael McNutt Modified: March 12, 2008 at 12:09 am •  Published: March 12, 2008
Rep. Sally Kern will not be punished by the House of Representatives for remarks she made away from the state Capitol in which she called homosexuality the biggest threat to America, House Speaker Chris Benge said Tuesday.

Benge, R-Tulsa, said he has no plans to censure Kern, R-Oklahoma City, for telling a Republican gathering earlier this year that homosexuals are "the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam.”

Three organizations have called on Benge to censure Kern or have her apologize for the comments. One possibility would be for a House committee to investigate to determine if punishment was merited.

"We're not putting a committee together, no,” Benge said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, is looking into alleged death threats made through e-mail messages and telephone calls sent to Kern.

The unusually large volume of e-mails sent to Kern and other House members nearly clogged the chamber's e-mail system and server that representatives use to track bills, a spokeswoman said.

The flood of e-mails is the result of an audio clip of Kern's comments being posted on the Internet site YouTube.

The House Internet system did not crash, largely because technical staff made the YouTube site inaccessible on the House servers, said Jennifer Mock, Benge's spokeswoman. The YouTube site was chosen because most representatives were trying to listen to Kern's comments and because its streaming audio and video require a lot of computer space, she said. The site still was unavailable Tuesday.

Three OSBI agents are looking into the possibility that some of the e-mails and telephone calls made to Kern are threatening, agency spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

Several criminal analysts are going through thousands of e-mails "that are growing by the moment,” Brown said.

"Many of them are ‘I hope you die,'” Brown said. View a map of Oklahoma House District 84 Open letter to Rep. Kern from Chuck Wolfe, The Gay &...

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