OKLAHOMA CITY - Members of the LGBTQ community are offended by a farewell speech from one of the state's most controversial lawmakers.
Rep. Sally Kern (R-Bethany) gave her formal goodbye remarks on the House floor Wednesday, reflecting on her 12-year career as a legislator and the legacy she has left behind.
After thanking her closest colleagues and remembering "the good times," Kern addressed her strong opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights, which has brought her national notoriety and, in some cases, intense scorn.
"How many of you are having a farewell party and a fundraiser thrown in your honor just because you're leaving? When I first heard about this, I was a little offended. Just $35 for a ticket? I thought, surely, if I was their biggest opponent, couldn't I be worth at least 50?" Kern joked.
Troy Stevenson, the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, said the group is planning a party to celebrate Kern's departure and raise money to support LGBTQ-friendly candidates.
But, he didn't find her joke to be humorous.
“Rep. Kern’s words were not funny. They were not deeply held beliefs or opinions. They were lies and hate speech in no uncertain terms," he said in a statement.
Kern first caught flack for pushing to remove a book called 'King and King' from library shelves.
In the book, a prince marries another prince.
A few years later, she called homosexuality "worse than terrorism."
"Yes, in 2008, I did say that the homosexual agenda is worse than terrorism," Kern recalled in her remarks. "Now, we all know that terrorism destroys lives and property and brings devastation. Just look at where we are today in our society. A man who feels like a woman can go into the ladies restroom now. A florist, a baker, a photographer are being ruined financially, because they wouldn't participate in a same-sex wedding, since it goes against their sincerely-held religious beliefs. Same-sex marriage has been forced on every state by the courts when 31 of our states voted overwhelmingly to define marriage as God has always defined it. In schools across our state, children are being encouraged to try the homosexual lifestyle and even to play act like the opposite sex because they could be a transgender."
"I didn't apologize in 2008, and I don't apologize now, because God's word has not changed," she said. "Things are worse now than they are then, and I'm afraid they're going to just get worse."
Stevenson took offense to those remarks.
"We thought she was going to go away gracefully but to double down on those kind of remarks in a state where we’ve dealt with so much terrorism, I mean it’s insulting not just to the community she’s attacking, it’s insulting to survivors of terrorism, it’s insulting to the family of the victims," he said. "I just can’t imagine someone invoking that kind of imagery to shame a community. It’s just awful."
Kern went on to say she never intended to be directly opposed to one specific person or group.
Instead, she was simply following the word of God.
"In matters of fashion, go with the flow. In matters of principle, stand like a rock," she said, quoting Thomas Jefferson. "That is what I have tried to do."
Former State Rep. Al McAffrey (D-Oklahoma City) said he's not surprised Kern stuck to her guns, but that doesn't take away any of the sting from her remarks.
"What she said makes no sense to me, and I am appalled that she would still stay that way but, you know, we respect that that's what she feels," said McAffrey, the state's first openly gay legislator. "I think that Sally is totally wrong, but I do believe that she should be able to express herself."
But, McAffrey, who is running for U.S. Congress, said he has no hard feelings toward Kern.
In fact, he said they had a friendly relationship during their time in the chamber together.
"I think Sally was doing a job she thinks she was called to do," he said. "And, you can't blame a person that has those convictions."
Kern declined to comment for this story, saying her farewell speech was meant for personal reflection, not news.