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?