The Kern Obsession

Image of Sally Kern

One of Sally Kern’s latest legal attacks on the state’s LBGT community would ensure parents here of the right to force their children to undergo the barbaric practice of gay-conversion therapy.

If state Rep. Kern’s House Bill 1598 is signed into law, Oklahoma would have state-supported child abuse codified into its statutes, another embarrassment to the state and the result of a Republican-dominated government.

Kern, 68, a Republican who represents a district that includes areas in Oklahoma City and Bethany, has spent much of her lawmaking career—she has been voted into office since 2005 and will be term limited in 2016—obsessed with finding ways to deny equality to and denigrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community (LGBT) in the state. Her 2008 infamous comment arguing that homosexuality is “the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam . . .” not only made her and the state open to widespread ridicule but also indicated the loopy depths of her narrowly focused agenda.

The country’s medical establishment has universally condemned gay conversion therapy, which is the process of trying to turn a gay person into a straight person. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association, for example, oppose it. Many people in the medical, scientific and LGBT community agree such programs can be harmful to minor children and lead to suicide or longtime mental health issues.

Conversion therapy is based on two major fallacies: (1) That there’s something wrong with a person if they feel same-sex physical and romantic attraction, and (2) that it’s possible to simply “convert” a person into becoming heterosexual through methods like forced vomiting and electric shock to the genitals.

Conversion therapy is banned in California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Legislation to ban it is under consideration right now in Iowa and Colorado.

Kern’s bill, which was recently passed by a 5-3 vote in the House Committee on Children, Youth and Family Services, is also basically senseless because there is no ban on conversion therapy here. Her bill, which should obviously not advance in the legislature, is simply a mean-spirited political and religious attack that would actually change nothing here but would do even more massive damage to the state’s image.