- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Rep. Sally Kern, a conservative Oklahoma Republican who’s sparked fierce criticism for disparaging remarks about gays and other minorities, doubled down on her anti-gay remarks this week as she closed her 12-year career in the state House with a farewell speech to her colleagues.

A former schoolteacher and wife of a Baptist preacher from a suburban enclave in northwest Oklahoma City, Kern is term-limited and can’t run for re-election. Her retirement is being celebrated by gay rights advocates who have worked to oppose Kern’s legislative agenda for years and who sponsored a “Farewell Sally” fundraiser.

Kern, 69, drew national attention in 2008 after saying at a political forum that the “homosexual agenda” poses a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorists, comments she stood by on Wednesday when she took to the House well to deliver her speech, a ritual for outgoing lawmakers.

“Same-sex marriage has been forced on every single state by the courts, when 31 of our states voted overwhelmingly to define as God has always defined it,” Kern said. “All across the nation, children are being encouraged to try the homosexual lifestyle and even to play like the opposite sex, because they could be a transgender.

“I didn’t apologize in 2008 and I don’t apologize today either, because God’s word has not changed.”

Her anti-gay remarks came at the end of an otherwise humorous and emotionally touching tribute to her colleagues. But the final minutes of her speech drew a sharp rebuke from both fellow members and the head of group that lobbies for equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“The representatives’ final speech before her colleagues was shameful and will be remembered as the capstone of a career built on hatred and discrimination. For that I pity her,” said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma.

Rep. Emily Virgin, a Democrat from Norman, said she was surprised that despite all of the LGBT supporters who have met personally with Kern over the years, “she has not changed her position one bit.”

Stevenson’s group is hosting a $35-per-plate “Farewell Sally” fundraiser later this month. The proceeds will go toward advocacy efforts for LGBT rights.

Kern hasn’t just insulted the gay community over the years.

The full House voted to reprimand Kern in 2011 after she denigrated blacks and women during a debate on an affirmative action bill. At the time, Kern questioned whether there were disproportionately high numbers of blacks in state prisons because “they didn’t want to work hard in school.” She also said women don’t work as hard as men because they “tend to think a little bit more about their families.”

Kern later apologized for those remarks, saying her comments were not well expressed and implied things she did not mean.

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide