Sally Kern, a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, was caught on tape the other day warning a Republican audience that gays were a greater threat to the nation than terrorists. Or Muslims. God knows how many young thugs will take their elected official's warning too seriously.
Have a listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPB7bTdz2xQ&feature=related
Ms. Kern is unlikely ever to see my letter among the hundreds of thousands of other letters, e-mails and video taped responses, but one never knows…
Thought I’d share it with you.
The Honorable Sally Kern
Oklahoma State House of Representatives
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 332
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Dear Representative Kern:
In 1948 the California Supreme Court decided by a margin of one that it was unconstitutional to forbid persons of different races to marry. One justice, Justice Shenk, had this to say about the decision in his dissenting opinion:
[T]he free mixing of all the races could in fact only lower the general level. . .
[W]here two such races are in contact the inferior qualities are not bred out,
but may be emphasized in the progeny, a principle widely expressed in modern
eugenic literature.” (Perez v. Sharp, supra, 32 Cal.2d at pp. 756-757 (dis. opn.
of Shenk, J.).) (cited in Amicus Brief of the California NAACP, In re Marriage Cases S147999, p. 8)
Today, we look back at such attitudes in wonder, and thank God most people in the United States of America have moved beyond such views, then thought by many to be “common sense.”
The analogue today is found in speeches like yours in which gays and lesbians are described as “the biggest threat our nation has, even more than terrorism or Islam.” You say your remarks were taken out of context. Perhaps there is a context in which hate speech makes sense. One has to wonder what that might be.
Justice Shenk now lives in history as a man whose convictions were based on ignorance and prejudice. Part of America’s shame. At the moment you are Oklahoma’s shame in the eyes of the civilized world.
It is wrong that death threats are being directed at you. You do not deserve to die for your opinions, however unenlightened, and those who threaten you should be punished for following your hate speech with more of their own.
I wish you a long life.
Time enough to earn a better place in history than is held by Justice Shenk.
Alan J. McCornick
Rep. Kern’s home page: http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/Member.aspx?MemberID=87
Ellen DeGeneres’ response to Rep. Kern’s speech: