Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern made headlines when she warned the audience at a Republican fundraiser that "gays are infiltrating city councils" and "they are winning elections."
Kern won’t have to worry about that menace in her upcoming 2010 race for re-election. Her main opponent, Brittany Novotny, is not gay. She’s transgender.
Novotny is an Oklahoma City attorney who began a private practice in 2007 specializing in civil rights and employment law. She graduated from University of California â€“ Hastings College of the Law in 2005 and lists herself as a member of Young Democrats of Oklahoma, legal adviser and vice chair of the women’s caucus. Recently, she began in-house counsel work with the American Federation of Government Employees, Local 916.
Novotny has not yet announced her candidacy for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Instead, she said by phone, "I’m exploring a run."
She expects to make an announcement by the end of September or the beginning of October.
"We’re doing everything we can to run a credible campaign," she said, implying the importance of ousting the incumbent.
Kern came to national attention last summer with her statement about gays and lesbians. "I honestly think it [homosexuality] is the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam," Kern said.
The Journal Record, an Oklahoma City newspaper, suggested that Kern was either a spy from Texas or Sasha Baron Cohen. They argued that she was "harming Oklahoma’s economic development efforts and that her credibility as a legislator is so eroded that even her home district constituents must be looking at her performance askance."
The newspaper reported that Brenda K. Jones, a Republican consultant, claimed that after her first statements about gays being worse than terrorists, two companies that were about to announce a move to Oklahoma changed their plans.
Novotny said that many people in the business community want Kern out of office.
Before doing interviews, though, Novotny said she wants to lay the groundwork and get her campaign staff in place. She said she has spoken to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and to former Oklahoma county commissioner Jim Roth, who is gay. The district borders that of state Rep., Al McAffrey, the only openly gay Democrat serving in the Oklahoma House.
Roth said Novotny has "a genuine understanding of the dignity intended for all citizens by our constitution. Her service will be a wonderful departure from the crazy, homophobic rantings of one-issue Sally Kern."
He added, "I’ve known Brittney for years and I know she’s dedicated to growing jobs, improving schools and helping people."
Novotny’s Web site has launched with just a home page and a link to donate and to her Facebook page. The Web site address is www.brittany4hd84.com.
On the home page, Novotny wrote, "…we need a representative who values all families in the district, who is dedicated to bringing good jobs to Oklahoma, and who will work tirelessly to make sure our children are getting the best education in our public schools. I believe I have the experience, drive, and determination to do that."
Her Facebook page has links to articles about health care reform. Her first event is listed as a wine and cheese fundraiser on Sept. 18 in Norman, Okla.
Meanwhile, Kern continues to appear to cater to the extreme right-wing. In June, she issued her "Proclamation for Morality" declaring that the United States has become a "world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse and many other forms of debauchery."
Her proclamation misquoted the country’s founding fathers and advocated for unconstitutional takeover of government by religion and blamed the current economic crisis on immorality.
Novotny said that the filing deadline for her race is not until June 2010, and that a primary, if necessary, would be held sometime during the summer. She said that at this time she is not expecting to face any primary opponents.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2009.