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Anti-gay Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern retains legal counsel

by Nick Langewis

In an escalating public battle over anti-gay comments made at a secretly taped speech, the conservative Thomas More Law Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan announced on Wednesday that it has agreed to represent Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern in any legal cases arising from the controversy.

"Representative Kern expressed her concern that the homosexual agenda was destroying our nation, and that young school children were being indoctrinated into believing that the homosexual 'life style' is normal," said a Thomas More Law Center news release on Wednesday. "Her comments caused some of the nationís largest homosexual groups to target her for political annihilation."

"Representative Kern will not back down, regardless of the attempted hate-mongering intimidation by these national homosexual advocacy groups," added the firm's President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson of the "courageous Christian woman." "Their actions are right out of a play-book developed by radical homosexual activists in the 1980s to manipulate and intimidate the majority of Americans into accepting the normalcy of the homosexual life style. (sic)"

An IRS-designated 501(c)(3) organization, Thomas More runs on individual, corporate and foundation donations and does not charge for its services. Its aim is to "[defend and promote] the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life through education, litigation, and related activities."

On Tuesday, about 300 people rallied outside Oklahoma's state capitol to protest Kern's statements and demand an apology. The crowd included LGBT advocates seeking to meet with the lawmaker, who was personally invited to the rally by Oklahoma City resident and retired United Methodist minister Rev. Jim Shields, joined by Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards of the United Church of Christ, also president of Oklahoma City's PFLAG chapter.

"I'd have no problem meeting with ['two or three' representatives of the gay community] next week when I have my lawyer," Kern told Tulsa World on Tuesday.

Kern's comparisons of gays to cancer, charges of "indoctrination" and opining that gays posed a worse threat to the United States than international terrorism have garnered both praise and ire in the public square after the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund's "We're Listening" campaign brought it to light.

Portions of the speech follow below:

Kern has defended her free speech rights and refused to apologize, saying that she was not engaging in "hate speech." Rather, she says, she was holding true to values that helped her be elected to public office.

"Most Oklahomans are socially conservative and believe marriage is a sacred institution, the union of one man and one woman, and that the traditional family is worth protecting and preserving," said Kern in her March 10th public statement. "When I campaigned for office, I promised my constituents to stand up for those values, and I do not apologize for keeping my word."

"In recent days," said Victory Fund President and CEO Chuck Wolfe on Tuesday, "Rep. Kern and her supporters have defended her freedom of speech, as though that's what millions of people, gay and straight alike, are objecting to. We are not. Rep. Kern has every right to her opinion and to express it.

"But she is also a public servant and an elected community leader whose public speeches have an impact beyond her own small sphere. If she had offered similar hateful views about African Americans, Native Americans or Jewish people, the calls for her resignation would have been swift and deafening, and from both sides of aisle in the State House. We wouldn't even be debating her speech. We'd be saying goodbye."


Originally published on Thursday March 20, 2008.

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