Oklahoma City_A Republican member of the Oklahoma Legislature has received death threats since telling a political group that "the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation" and poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism or Islam.
"I'm not gay-bashing. But according to God's word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City said during an appearance before a group of Republicans. Her comments were recorded and posted on the video sharing Web site YouTube on Friday.
"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," Kern says in the recorded comments. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."
On Monday, Kern said her comments were edited and taken out of context. Kern said they were directed at wealthy, politically active homosexuals 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 has 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.
"I hear what you said and you should be killed...," said one.
"You honestly think that homosexuality is a greater threat than terrorism?" said another. "How someone as petulant and vile as yourself got elected to office, I will never understand."
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 two 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."
In a response to one e-mail, Kern said 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 Representative 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."