Anti-gay remarks blasted
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Friday, March 14, 2008
3/14/08 at 2:47 PM
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Video: Listen to Sally Kern's controversial speech.
Complete coverage: Oklahoma legislator's anti-gay comments stir hostile reaction :: Kern cites support from GOP :: OSBI reading Kern e-mails :: Local gay organization denounces Kern's comments against homosexuality :: Ellen calls Sally Kern
:: Kern's son denies reports he is gay
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Community leaders on Thursday
denounced state Rep. Sally Kern's recent comments about homosexuality
and asked legislators to respond by
passing hate crimes legislation that
encompasses sexual orientation and
Nancy McDonald, the president of
the Tulsa Chapter of Parents, Families
and Friends of Lesbians and Gays also
called on Kern, R-Oklahoma City, to
make a public apology for saying she
thinks homosexuality is "the biggest
threat that our nation has, even more
so than terrorism or Islam."
Justice Waidner, executive
director of Oklahomans for
Equality, which organized the
press conference, said, "When
elected officials use their power to defame entire categories
of people, they abuse the freedom of speech embedded in
the First Amendment and violate their responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being
of their constituents."
Kern's anti-gay comments,
made in January in front of a
group of Republicans, have received national attention since
they were posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube on
March 7. Kern, who said she
has received hundreds of
phone calls and more than
7,000 e-mails in response, has
since said the comments were
taken out of context and that
she was speaking about individuals and not groups.
Citing recent acts of violence against gay and transgender people, Waidner said
comments such as Kern's
have dangerous effects.
"Rep. Kern has repeatedly
used her public office to demonize lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender Oklahomans
and to attempt to deny them
the exact same civil liberties
she now defends so passionately," Waidner said. "This is
the height of hypocrisy."
In 2006, Kern sponsored a
bill to deny public money to libraries that did not segregate
books that were determined to
have gay themes.
A representative of the Islamic Society of Tulsa criticized Kern's statement about
Islam and said Oklahoma
Muslims positively contribute
to the state.
"Rep. Kern's divisive comments are counterproductive
and distract our Legislature
and all Oklahomans from far
more important issues that
this state and nation must focus on," said Sheryl Siddiqui,
the society's director of community relations.
Jerre Fine, a former Air
Force linguist who has studied the culture of Islam, called
Kern's remarks absurd and ignorant.
Fine, who is gay, said she
was particularly offended as a
person who has served the
country by fighting terrorism.
"We need protection not only from outside sources
looking to destroy America;
we need protection from within by people like Sally Kern,"
The video of Kern had been
viewed more than 800,000
times on YouTube by Thursday afternoon. In it, Kern, a
former teacher, says children
in public schools are being indoctrinated by a "homosexual
agenda" and that gay-straight
alliances at schools are "ruining lives."
On Monday, Kern said Re
publican caucus members
gave her a standing ovation after she read to them some of
the e-mails she received. The
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the e-mails and phone calls to assess whether they contain
threats of violence.
Kern's statements have put
all Oklahomans in a bad light,
said Jim Langdon, board president of the Oklahoma Center
for Community and Justice.
"Her statement perpetuates
the wrongful stereotype that
Oklahoma is a backward
state," he said. "Every proud
Oklahoman deserves to be
disgusted at her ridiculous
Kern's comments also do
not represent Christian thinking, said the Rev. Jim Mishler,
executive director of the Tulsa
"We take exception to her
claiming the Christian territory for her viewpoints," he said.
Shannon Muchmore 581-8378
Jerre Fine (right), a former linguist for the Air Force,
speaks Thursday during a press conference criticizing
recent comments by state Rep. Sally Kern. David
Bernstein (left) and Jim Langdon are seated.