Steve Ralls

Fact-Checking Sally's Three-Step

Filed By Steve Ralls | March 31, 2008 8:48 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: Oklahoma, PFLAG, Sally Kern

Originally posted at the PFLAG National Blog.

There she goes again.

It seems as if Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern is determined to do some fancy footwork to avoid even the perception that she might be open-minded enough to consider another view.

Her repetitive routine of one step forward and two steps back should now just be called "The Sally Three-Step."

As we reported here last week, Kern sat down on Thursday morning with Oklahoma City PFLAG supporters, who requested a meeting with the lawmaker to discuss her recent comments comparing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to a "cancer" that "is just destroying this nation."

Despite the shrill rhetoric of Kern's original remarks, however, Oklahoma PFLAG'ers delivered on their promise to Kern that the sit-down in the state capitol would be civil, respectful and, dare we say it, even down-right nice. And it was. As PFLAG said in a press release on Thursday afternoon, the organization was appreciative of Kern's willingness to grant the meeting, hear our concerns and have a dialogue. It was one significant step forward in an important conversation between Kern and her constituents.

Then, just hours after that first conversation, Kern took (more than just) two big steps back.

On Friday, Kern told The Oklahoman newspaper that PFLAG had misrepresented her views. But, a close look at the facts shows that it is Kern and her supporters who have misrepresented what the organization originally said.

PFLAG had "taken my statements and have spun them to make it appear that I am backing off my comments that homosexuality is a sin," Kern told the paper. "As a Christian who believes in the authority of God's word, I will never retract my comments that homosexuality is a sin."

Fact: Thursday's press release from PFLAG specifically states that, "Kern did not express an apology during today's meeting, nor did she back away from any of her earlier comments." We never said that Kern changed her views on sexual orientation and "sin."

Then, Kern took issue with PFLAG's report that she had indicated lesbian and gay Americans should not be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation. "I unequivocally do not support sexual orientation laws," she said. "While I do not advocate employers going on a witch hunt to fire homosexual employees who are performing their jobs in a manner just like any heterosexual employee, I do not support laws that would force employers to check their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, speech, and association at the workplace door."

Fact: We never said Kern supported any employment non-discrimination law. We reported that she told one of the PFLAG supporters in Thursday's meeting that "I agree with" the idea that gays shouldn't be fired. But we were careful in not misrepresenting Kern's views, putting words in her mouth, or legislation in her hand.

But wait, there's more.

Kern went on to tell The Oklahoman that she would not continue any conversations with PFLAG families, insinuating that those present at Thursday's meeting were somehow engaging in a political attack.

Fact: Just after her Thursday meeting, she told the same reporter that, "This is what democracy is all about, free exchange of ideas" and went on to note that the PFLAG representatives "...were very cordial and I was, too. They expressed their viewpoints and I expressed mine." She never once complained on Thursday that the meeting was anything less than a respectful exchange of ideas. That change of perspective did not happen until Friday morning.

And so... after expressing appreciation to Kern for taking that important first step forward, and working hard to extend "open arms" to her for future dialogues, the lawmaker elected to represent the will of her constituents instead chose to slam the door shut on them. And she chose to do it - once again -in an especially inflammatory way.

On Saturday, Kern sent a fiery letter-to-the-editor of The Bethany Tribune, writing in part that Americans who favor equality for GLBT people "want 'special rights' for the acceptance of their deviant lifestyle." Then, she enlisted the help of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee to personally attack the three PFLAG supporters in Thursday's meeting: Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards, Rev. Dr. Kathy McCallie and Rev. Jim Shields. The Oklahoma CPAC called the three "false prophets" and "phoney clergy" who "want to destroy Representative Kern and make an example of her" and "Kern to apologize for her statements."

But one last fact check reveals that Rev. Newton-Edwards told the media on Thursday that, "We didn't even ask her to [apologize]. What we said to her was that we were coming in a spirit of healing and reconciliation and we just wanted to talk and speak heart-to-heart."

And so when you fact-check Sally's Three-Step... who seems like a false prophet now?

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I always love a good two step. Or a disco dance. Maybe Sally Kern will be starring in the sequel to "Flashdance" or "Saturday Night Fever." Yes! I can see it now!

As for PFLAG, I love a PFLAG mom! Of course they were nice to Sally Kern. I'll be they even brought cookies.

I actually saw her retraction, and wrote her about it on Friday:

Ms. Kern

I read your posting on the Americans for Truth site about your meeting with PFAG as well as their post on what they took away from the meeting, and I must say that your statement that they had said that you backed away from your earlier statements is false.

Following is their statement:

Lawmaker Agrees Gays Should Not Be Fired Because of Sexual Orientation
Oklahoma City, OK– Members and allies of the Oklahoma City Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) met earlier today with Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern to express concern about her recent comments comparing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to a “cancer” that “is just destroying this nation.” Kern also referred to GLBT Americans as “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism.”

Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards, president of the Oklahoma City PFLAG chapter, was joined in the meeting by Dr. Rev. Kathy McCallie, pastor of the Church of the Open Arms and Rev. Jim Shields, a retired United Methodist Church minister from Kern’s district. The group requested a meeting with Kern following a March 18 rally at the state capitol. In her meeting with PFLAG supporters today, Kern said that “I agree with” the idea that gay and lesbian Americans should not be fired from their jobs because of their sexual orientation.

“We appreciate Representative Kern taking the time to meet with us and consider an important, ongoing dialogue about our families and loved ones,” said Rev. Newton-Edwards. “Representative Kern expressed a commendable desire to consider every family, every Oklahoman and every constituent. Today, she took an important first step forward that, we hope, will be the beginning of many conversations with our families and our community.”

Kern did not express an apology during today’s meeting, nor did she back away from any of her earlier comments. The meeting was, however, her first with a group working within the GLBT and allied communities. Newton-Edwards, McCallie and Shields all shared their own stories about why Kern’s comments were personally hurtful, and asked the lawmaker to remember their loved ones when speaking out, and casting votes, in the future. Newton-Edwards also invited Kern to attend an upcoming PFLAG meeting, and Kern said she would consider the request.

“As Representative Kern begins to listen to voices from across her district, and the state, she will hear the stories of hard-working, patriotic men and women who make our communities better, our nation safer and our families stronger,” said Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG. “We appreciate this initial meeting, and PFLAG stands ready to be a resource to Kern and a champion for her constituents. We look forward to continuing today’s conversation and working with Kern to move equality forward. Bringing communities together, rather than dividing the public with inflammatory words, should be a top priority of every elected leader. Kern will always find open arms and welcoming families at PFLAG.”

According to The Williams Institute at the University of California - Los Angeles , Oklahoma is home to more than 89,500 GLBT citizens; nearly 10,000 lesbian and gay military veterans; and approximately 4,000 children are living in loving homes headed by same-sex couples. According to the Institute, Representative Kern’s district is home to more GLBT Oklahomans than any other district in the state.

All they said was that you were, at least at the time, willing to have further dialogue, and that you did agree with the statement that gays should not be subject to being fired just for being gay. The second statement is one that you even admit to in your post.

Yet now, you back away from any wish to have further dialog, and accuse them of misrepresenting your words, something which is false.

Only through dialog and a sharing of ideas can progress and understanding be made. I am sure that, since there were other members of the christian faith there, they told you that not all Christians agree with your interpretation of the bible on the subject of homosexuality. This though is not what is important. What is important here is to build a basis of understanding and acceptance. Whether you like it or not, you were elected to represent gay and transgendered Oklahomans. To ignore any segment of the people that you, as a public servant represent, is not providing the service you were elected to do. I know, from your statements, that you take your faith very seriously. However, not all of the people you represent are Christians, and those that are may not believe the same as you do. As an elected official; you do not represent God or Christ, you represent the people of your district. You also serve the constitution of these United States, a constitution that provides for the separation of church and state.

I would hope that you give consideration to what I have written and continue your dialog with these members of your constituency.



We can use her as the butt of jokes, and say all sorts of things about her, but all that is going to do is feed the flames of her fanatisism and keep her thinking of herself as the "victim" and her being a "martyr for christ".

In the menatime, the more we attack and villify her, the closer the conservatives will circle the wagons around her. We will also make our cause seem vicious and meanspirited in the eyes of the average american. I have read outtakes of some of the mail she has recieved, and honestly, it is sickening some of the things people said.

Reasoned dialog, and the revelation of any falsifications, followed by a sincere attempt at reconcilliation is the only way to really act in this matter. Also, reminding her and the world of what her duties are as an elected represenative, to show that it is she who is in the wrong, as well as other elected officials who act in such a meanspirited manner, is what needs to be done.

You catch a lot more flies with honey, than with vinegar. (No, not one of my mothers favorite sayings, but one I have discovered the truth of.)