Homophobic official may have gay son

Posted on 13 Mar 2008 at 9:58pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

OKC legislator’s tirade saying ‘homosexual agenda’ poses bigger threat than terrorism heard by over 700,000 since being posted on YouTube

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Republican state legislator behind what has become one of the most notorious homophobic tirades in history may have a gay son.

During the tirade, which was posted on the video sharing Web site YouTube on March 7, Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City said "the homosexual agenda" poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism.

Since being posted on YouTube and the Web site of the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the clip has been viewed by more than 700,000.

On Wednesday, March 12, the gay online news service Queerty reported that one of Kern’s two grown sons, Jesse, is gay. The report was based on comments posted on Web sites by readers who alleged that Jesse Kerns had been disciplined for cruising toilets while a student at Oklahoma Baptist University.

As of Thursday, March 13, the report had not confirmed, and Sally Kern’s husband, a Baptist preacher, issued a statement denying it.

Media outlets also were poking holes in Kern’s assertion that death threats were contained in some of the thousands of e-mails she received after her remarks were posted on the Web. A law enforcement official who’d been called in to investigate said Tuesday, March 12that the e-mails in question didn’t contain what could be characterized as death threats.

Sally Kern reportedly was unaware her remarks were being recorded when she made them to a group of fellow Republicans.

"I’m not gay-bashing. But according to God’s word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Kern said. She also told her listeners that "the very fact that I am talking like this to you here today puts me in jeopardy."

"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," Kern said in the recorded comments. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."

The Victory Fund posted a video on its Web site (http://www.victoryfund.org/files/listening.html) that included an audio recording of Kern’s statements. The Victory Fund also published an "open letter" to Kerns on the site and asked people to sign.

"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," Kern said in the recorded comments. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."


Sally Kern

On Monday, March 10, Kern said her comments were edited and taken out of context. Kern said they were directed at wealthy, politically active gays and lesbians who are contributing money to gay and lesbian candidates for public office in Oklahoma and other states.

"I was talking about an agenda. I was not talking about individuals," said Kern, the wife of a Baptist minister. "They have the right to choose that lifestyle. They do not have the right to force it down our throat.

"I have never said hate speech against anybody. I would never do that."

Kern said she had received more than 3,000 e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls since her comments were posted online. She said a few supported her comments but that most condemned them and that some contained death threats and obscenities.

The only openly gay member of the state Legislature, Rep. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, said Kern’s comments have alarmed gay voters in Kern’s district and elsewhere in the nation.

"It saddens me that we hear bigotry from our representatives," said McAffrey, who embraced Kern as the two lawmakers discussed her comments about gays in a state Capitol hallway Monday morning.

"There is not a gay agenda," McAffrey told The Associated Press afterward. "There are a lot of people who have money who are willing to support progressive candidates."

McAffrey said he is a father and a grandfather. "And I happen to be gay. I think we need to look at individuals."

In her recorded comments, Kern expressed concern that gay candidates "are winning elections" and control city councils in Arkansas, Maryland and other states. A former teacher, Kern also said gays are teaching young public school children that their lifestyle is acceptable.

"We’re not teaching facts and knowledge anymore. We’re teaching indoctrination," Kern said.

"We have the gay-straight alliance coming into our schools. Kids are getting involved in these groups, their lives are being ruined," she said. "They are going after our young children, as young as 2 years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

"This stuff is deadly and it’s spreading and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation."

Kern later claimed she was primarily concerned about "the aggressive movement" to support gay candidates across the nation and in Oklahoma, where a gay candidate is seeking a statewide office.

Jim Roth, a member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission who is openly gay, is seeking a full six-year term on the commission that regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry.

"As a public official I have taken an oath to serve 100 percent of our citizens, and I only wish that Rep. Kern would honor the same spirit of our democracy," said Roth, a Democrat and former Oklahoma County commissioner who was appointed to the statewide position by Gov. Brad Henry last year.

"My focus is on serving the citizens of Oklahoma, not on responding to the rantings of an angry legislator. We all have a duty to serve all people," Roth said. "The politics of division and demagoguery only steal the future from what our state needs for everyone’s sake."

LGBT advocacy organizations around the country responded quickly, condemning what they called Kern’s hateful speech.

Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said in a written statement that such "hateful and defamatory language from our public officials is completely unacceptable," and called on GLAAD members and allies to "stand together to hold elected officials like Kern, pledged to serve all the people, accountable for promoting hatred and bigotry."

Giuliano also called on the media to cover Kern’s comments to hold her accountable and to "bring to light the anti-gay attitudes and beliefs that are still all too common in our country."

Justice Waidner, executive director of Equality Oklahoma also issued a written statement, saying that while his organization support’s Kern’s right to free speech, it "vociferously objects to the actions she takes to prevent LGBT Oklahomans for attaining justice and equality."

"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," Waidner said.

Waidner also called on the Oklahoma Legislature to respond to Kern’s comments by immediately passing a state hate crimes law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.



This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 14, 2008

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