An Oklahoma state representative has received thousands of hostile e-mail messages after she said that homosexuality is a bigger threat to national security than terrorism.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating more than 17,000 mostly hostile e-mails that were sent to State Rep. Sally Kern after parts of a speech she gave to a Republican organization earlier this year were posted on YouTube, said bureau spokeswoman Jessica Brown. Listen to portions of the speech.
During the speech, Kern said that "the homosexual agenda is just destroying this nation" and that homosexuality poses a bigger threat to the United States than terrorism. "According to God's word, that is not the right kind of lifestyle," she said.
"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," Kern, a former teacher who sits on the education committee, added.
Her speech, first posted online earlier this week by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, has generated national attention. The recording has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube. Since then, Kern's office has been bombarded by angry phone calls and e-mails. Several gay rights organizations have called for her to resign and local newspapers have criticized her.
"Her comments are so inappropriate and beyond the pale that she's demonstrated that she's not fit for service in public office," said Patrick Sammon, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a national association of gay and lesbian Republicans. "For someone to compare gay people to terrorists is really difficult to comprehend. She should be ashamed."
Brown, the spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said the agency was reviewing the growing number of e-mails sent to Kern to determine if any of them could be considered legally threatening.
"If I say I'm going to kill you, that's a threat. If I say I hope you die, that's not," she said.
She said the agency may contact some of the people who sent the e-mails.
Kern did not respond to e-mails and messages left at her office and home in Oklahoma City. Her husband, a Baptist minister, also did not return a message. A spokesman for the state House of Representatives, speaking on Kern's behalf, said Kern would not be available for an interview.
Her son, Jessie, said he stood by his mother. "I'm grateful that she has the passion to stand up for what she believes in," he said.
Kern has declined to apologize, telling local newspapers that her speech was edited when it was posted online and that her comments were taken out of context. She said she was referring only to activists who support gay candidates and what she called the "homosexual agenda." She said she had no problem with gay individuals.
She told the Tulsa World newspaper that she received a standing ovation during a private meeting of Republican lawmakers on Monday. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Chris Benge said there were no plans to censure Kern for her comments.