Oklahoma City PFLAG Supporters Meet with Sally Kern

For Immediate Release
March 27, 2008

Rev. Loyce Newton-Edwards
(405) 642-0124 / loycee@sbcglobal.net 
Steve Ralls
(202) 467-8180 X212 / sralls@pflag.org


Oklahoma City PFLAG Supporters Meet with Sally Kern
Lawmaker Agrees Gays Should Not Be Fired Because of Sexual Orientation

Oklahoma City, OKMembers 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 UnitedMethodistChurch 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.

For more information, visit www.pflag.org.

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PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.  For more information, visit www.pflag.org.