OKC theater company loses funds for presenting gay play by Paul Rudnick

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally KernAn Oklahoma City theater company is under attack because it will present a play by gay playwright Paul Rudnick in December.

State Rep. Dan Fisher belongs to a group called “Patriot Pastors.” As a result of his efforts, the theater company has already lost $5,000 in funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Another member of the group is Steve Kern, husband of state Rep. Sally Kern, the notorious homophobe in the Oklahoma House who blamed this paper for “bashing” her.

Despite the loss of funding, the Oklahoma City Theatre Company plans to present The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told at the Civic Center. The Civic Center said it does not censor shows and will host the production.

And if you haven’t already had enough of Sally Kern in Oklahoma state government, her husband has announced that he is running for state Senate.

—  David Taffet

OKC hate crime victim meets with FBI

Jon Ferguson’s car

The victim of an apparent hate crime in Oklahoma City last weekend met with the FBI for several hours on Wednesday.

“I can’t say enough good things about the FBI,” Cimarron Alliance Executive Director Scott Hamilton said. “The investigation is moving forward.”

He called the FBI thorough and intentional.

On Saturday, July 21, Jon Ferguson was awakened by his car alarm. When he got to the alley behind his house, he found two men vandalizing his car. They saw him, threw an incendiary device into the car and fled.

Ferguson was hit by either flames from the device or something burning from his car. He suffered burns on about 35 percent of his body but has been released from the hospital.

Fire department arson investigators have been looking into the attack, not the police department.

Hamilton said that one told him it was standard procedure and another told him police may get involved later on.

Although police have not ruled hate out as a motive, Hamilton decided to bring in the Justice Department when police declined to investigate.

The FBI took Ferguson’s clothes he was wearing on Saturday for lab tests.

Unlike the community in Portland, Texas, that rallied around the families of recent hate crime victims, Hamilton said, “The vitriol surrounding this is astounding.”

“Call Cimarron Alliance if you’ve been the victim of a hate crime,” Hamilton said.

—  David Taffet

Gay OKC man’s car fire-bombed in apparent hate crime

Jon Ferguson’s car

Members of the Cimarron Alliance, an Oklahoma City LGBT rights organization, plan to meet with the FBI on Wednesday afternoon about a possible hate crime that happened in the city on Saturday.

Jon Ferguson said he was awakened by his car alarm on Saturday morning at his Northwest Oklahoma City house. When he got up he found two men in the alley vandalizing his car. “Fag” was scrawled across the hood of the car.

As he approached the men, Ferguson reported that one of them threw an incendiary device into his Camaro, which burst into flames.

Hamilton said Ferguson isn’t sure whether the flames burned him or if it was debris flying from the car. He called 911 and jumped in the shower, which may have kept his injuries from becoming more severe, but he has burns on about 35 percent of his body.

“He will have some scarring,” Hamilton said.

Police are not calling it a hate crime at this time.

“This is still being handled as arson,” Hamilton said. “It made sense to get the FBI involved early.”

OKC’s News 9 reported on the incident.

—  David Taffet

Disciples of Christ church in OKC follows path of Dallas’ Midway Hills, becomes open and affirming

Roger Wedell

Roger Wedell

The Edmond Trinity Christian Church in Oklahoma City became the second Disciples of Christ Church in the state to become open and affirming, according to the Daily Oklahoman. There are 170 churches in the denomination within the state.

It’s curious why this story has been all over the gay blogs, however. Midway Hills Christian Church in Dallas is a member of the denomination as well. According to member Roger Wedell, his church joined the Gay and Lesbian Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Alliance in 1992. And they were fairly late in actually aligning themselves with GLAD.

“Well, that’s when we took the vote,” he said.

The movement in the denomination began about 1976 but Midway Hills has welcomed everyone since its founding in the 1950s.

“Gays and lesbians have been in leadership throughout our history,” Wedell said.

The church was one of the few places that welcomed Turtle Creek Chorale to rehearse when the group organized 32 years ago and P-FLAG Dallas formed there in the early ’90s.

So what took so long for the church to officially become open and affirming, Wedell said, was simply taking the vote. There wasn’t a need before that, he said, but finally, the church decided to become a witness to the community and to make sure anyone looking for an open and affirming church would find Midway Hills more easily.

The history of Edmund Trinity appears to be similar. The vote to become GLAD-affiliated followed a history of welcoming a diverse community that included two years of study of the treatment of gays and lesbians in the church.

Wedell said things in the Christian Church, as it’s known, are done on a congregational level. Midway Hills was and apparently remains at the forefront in the denomination on the subject of LGBT inclusion. Only about 100 of the denomination’s 3,600 churches nationwide are open and affirming through the GLAD alliance.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma House panel hears bill to reinstate ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ for state’s National Guard

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern once called gays a bigger to America threat than terrorists, and Oklahoma certainly wouldn’t want terrorists in its National Guard. So according to Kern’s logic, that must mean the state shouldn’t allow gays and lesbians in its National Guard, either.

In January, State Rep. Mike Reynolds introduced a bill that would allow anyone eligible to serve in the military on Jan. 1, 2009 — 20 days before Barack Obama was inaugurated as president — to serve in the Oklahoma National Guard.

The bill would put the state at odds with military policy — which has allowed gays to serve openly since the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” last year.

Last week, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis wrote to Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the National Guard Bureau Chief, and asked him to come out against the bill.

“If a state National Guard ‘fails to comply with a requirement of this title, or a regulation prescribed under this title, the National Guard of that State is barred, in whole or in part, as the President may prescribe, from receiving money or any other aid, benefit, or privilege authorized by law,’” Sarvis warned McKinley.

In other words, if Reynolds’ bill passes, Oklahoma could lose $300 million from the federal government.

Sarvis also wondered what will happen to service personnel in the Oklahoma Guard who have come out since the repeal of DADT.

“Would those who have come out since the repeal of DADT be discharged?” he asked. “And if the Oklahoma National Guard mobilizes into federal service, will gay and lesbian guard members from Oklahoma be allowed to serve openly while deployed in accordance with DOD and National Guard Bureau policy, only to be demobilized and discharged under Oklahoma’s DADT law?”

The Oklahoma Daily weighed in with its opinion: “A ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ rule for Oklahoma National Guard is wasteful and disrespectful to guardsmen.” John Aravosis of AmericaBlog has a different idea — call their bluff and let them hang themselves.

The Oklahoma House Veteran and Military Affairs Committee is scheduled to hear arguments about the bill this afternoon, according to the Oklahoma LGBT group The Equality Network.

UPDATE: Oklahoma Sen. Al McAffrey reports that the bill has been sent to a different committee where it will die.

“The bill reinstating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the Oklahoma National Guard is dead!” McAffrey wrote. “It was pulled from the Veterans Committee and reassigned to the Rules Committee, where the Chairman will not hear the bill. It’s good for our state that this bad piece of legislation will not proceed.”

—  David Taffet

Openly gay candidate Al McAffrey elected to Oklahoma Senate in special election

Sen. Al McAffrey

Oklahoma has its first openly gay state senator after Al McAffrey, 63, was elected Tuesday in a special election.

McAffrey was first elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2006 and easily won reelection in 2008 and 2010. In the Tuesday election, he won with more than 66 percent of the vote, according to the Daily Oklahoman. He will be sworn into office next week.

He was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

During his time in office, McAffrey was a leader on legislation supporting senior citizens, education issues and access to affordable health care. He was also one of the state House’s most vocal critics against Republican Rep. Sally Kern and her anti-gay agenda.

McAffrey’s district includes much of Oklahoma City. With his election, Democrats have 16 seats in the state Senate and Republicans have a 32-seat super-majority.

—  David Taffet

Levi Crocker claims he was attacked in OKC by 4 gays who hate ‘The A-List: Dallas’

If you’re heading to tonight’s A-List: Dallas watch party at Axiom, you might ask host and cast member Levi Crocker if his head is feeling any better. Gay blogs have been buzzing about Crocker’s tweets from the Thanksgiving weekend in which he claimed he was assaulted in a bar in Oklahoma City. Crocker now seems to be downplaying the incident, but not before posting this pic of what looks like a bloodied scalp after he was apparently hit with a bar stool. Crocker claims the attack was perpetrated by four gay people whose motive was the fact that they don’t like the show.

According to the Oklahoma City Police Department, there is no record of Crocker filing a report about the incident. I tweeted Crocker seeking more info. “I decided to leave this subject alone for now,” he responded earlier today.

This incident comes on the heels of fellow cast member Taylor Garrett’s claims that he was assaulted in Oak Lawn earlier this month.

Crocker’s tweets are after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

OKC proposal leaves out trans employees

Councilman Ed Shadid

The Oklahoma City Council is considering a proposal to add sexual orientation — but not gender identity and expression — to the city’s employment nondiscrimination policy. The Oklahoman reports that the council discussed the proposal from Councilman Ed Shadid today but put off a vote until Nov. 15:

The length of time that the measure was delayed was a subject of debate. Shadid voiced his desire for Mayor Mick Cornett, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, to be at the meeting where the measure will be voted upon. And Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said he wanted to be sure to be in attendance so he could vote in favor for it. But Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly said he didn’t think it should matter if the mayor is able to attend.

The council eventually settled on Nov. 15 because the mayor and the rest of the council are expected to be in attendance and city staff said that would provide ample time to study the issue.

The city’s equal employment opportunity ordinance now lists only classes protected by federal and state law, like gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability and political affiliation. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation is not explicitly prohibited federally or in Oklahoma.

It’s unclear why Shadid’s proposal doesn’t include gender identity and expression, but let’s hope the delay provides an opportunity to make it fully inclusive. The Oklahoman reports that a previous effort to add sexual orientation to the policy was so controversial that it led to the disbandment of the city’s Human Rights Commission in the 1990s.

—  John Wright

Sally Kern: Gays (and Gaga) are the real haters!

Rep. Sally Kern

In case you missed Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern’s appearance on Tim Wildmon’s American Family Radio, she was on promoting her new book, The Stoning of Sally Kern.

Wildmon is the president of the hate group the American Family Association. Kern is the legislator whose district includes a large number of those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, but who says that homosexuals are a bigger threat to this country than terrorists.

On the show, Wildmon said, “Nobody hates the individual homosexual.”

That’s great to know.

“To me what is hateful is when those people who say ‘you’re born this way, there’s no hope in change, you’re stuck in this, deal with it,’ that is hate,” Kern responded. “There’s no hope in that.”

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern gives tearful apology, votes to reprimand herself for racist comment

Rep. Sally Kern

SEAN MURPHY | Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma House voted Monday to reprimand a state lawmaker who denigrated blacks and women during a debate on an affirmative action bill last week.

Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, delivered a tearful apology on the House floor, then voted for her own reprimand as it passed on a 76-16 vote.

“Last Wednesday night while debating a bill, I said some words that were not well thought out and that offended many African Americans and many women,” said Kern, who fought back tears and quoted several Bible passages during her apology. “That was not my intent, but sadly it happened, and I take full responsibility for it and I’m truly sorry.

“While my words were not expressed well and implied things I did not mean, they were not spoken with any contempt or malice.”

Kern last week 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.”

As some legislators groaned during her debate remarks, Kern added: “Women like to be willing to have a moderate work life with plenty of time for spouse and children and other things like that. That’s all I meant.”

A retired teacher serving her fourth two-year term in the House, Kern was criticized in 2008 after saying at a political forum that gay people posed a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorists. In 2009, she campaigned for a proclamation criticizing the government for drifting from traditional Christian values.

The president of the Oklahoma chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party both have called for Kern’s resignation. Her speech didn’t change their minds.

“I applaud her colleagues for stepping forward and doing the right thing,” said Oklahoma’s NAACP President Anthony Douglas.

Douglas said he planned to meet with community leaders before deciding whether to withdraw his request for her resignation.

The bill, which won final approval on a 59-14 vote, sets an election for next year on a proposed constitutional amendment to end discrimination and preferential treatment in state government hiring and contracting based on race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin.

Thirteen Republicans and three Democrats voted against Kern’s reprimand Monday.

“I just don’t think you should reprimand somebody for saying stupid things,” said Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond. “If we reprimanded people for every stupid thing that they said in debate or everything they said that offended somebody in that chamber, we would be doing reprimands all day long.”

Rep. Purcy Walker said he opposed the reprimand because he felt Kern’s apology was sincere.

“I don’t agree with what she said, but she was willing to come back and really give a sincere apology and get up in front of everybody and apologize,” said Walker, D-Elk City. “If we’re not willing to forgive others, than we’re not going to be forgiven. I guess it’s just a spiritual conviction that I have.”

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin said she believes the House took the right action in reprimanding Kern.

“When I was informed last week of Rep. Kern’s comments regarding African-Americans and women, I made it clear that day that I disagreed with those comments and found them inappropriate,” Fallin said in a statement. “It’s my hope that lawmakers can now put this unfortunate incident behind them and work together to address the many issues facing Oklahoma’s families and businesses.”

—  John Wright