Rep Sally Kern defends bills aimed at gay community despite widespread criticism

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OKLAHOMA CITY - An Oklahoma lawmaker's recently proposed bills continue to attract national media attention.

Some fear Representative Sally Kern's measures are putting Oklahoma in a negative light right now because they’re aimed at the gay community.

House Bill 1599 would ban taxpayer money from being used for same sex marriage licensing.

House Bill 1598 would allow parents to seek conversion therapy for a gay child.

House Bill 1597 would permit businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community.  However, Kern later withdrew this bill, stating, "the bill as introduced did not accomplish my desired purpose."

Rep. Kern isn’t shy about her feelings on getting negative media attention.

She says she’s gotten hundreds of angry emails over three bills she’s proposed aimed at the gay community.

“Who cares? We are Oklahoma citizens. We are Oklahoma legislators up here. We deal with the issues of Oklahoma. Frankly, I don’t care what the media thinks from Washington, D.C. or Washington state,” Rep. Kern said.

Some metro leaders like city councilman Ed Shadid say Kern's proposed legislation and the attention it’s getting is bad for local business.

“I think in terms of corporations and convention planners, they want the diversity of their membership respected,” Shadid says. “It’s going to reflect poorly on us, and there will be an economic impact.

House Bill 1598 would allow parents to seek conversion therapy for a gay child without interference from the state.

“That gives people the choice, parents the opportunity, to take their children for some counseling if they’re struggling with same sex attraction,” Rep. Kern said.

Some legal experts say while there’s a chance her bills could pass with the conservative Oklahoma climate, there’s no chance they’d hold up in federal court if and when they are challenged.

“This blows my mind. These new proposed bills harken back to the days of the Jim Crow laws,” legal analyst Adam Banner says.

 The next legislative session begins in February.

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