Jon Jordan, News9.com
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) is backpedaling after sparking outrage with comments she made about minorities and women in the workplace.
The state House debated Wednesday over a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate affirmative action from state government. During the debate, Rep. Kern said minorities earn less money than white people because they are not willing to work as hard.
"Is this just because they are black that they are in prison, or could it be because they didn't want to work hard in school," said Rep. Kern. "And white people often times don't want to work hard in school, or Asians don't want to work hard in school, but a lot of times that is what happens. I taught school for 20 years and I saw a lot of people of color that didn't want to work as hard. They wanted it given to them."
"Matter of fact, I had one student who said to me I don't need to study. You want to know why? The government's going to take care of me. That's kind of revealing there."
Kern also took aim at women, saying they earn less than men because "women tend to think more about their family, wanting to stay at home more, wanting to be with their family, have more leisure time."
The Oklahoma Democratic Party responded to Rep. Kern's comments stating, "Rep. Sally Kern's comments on the House Floor this evening in regards to SJR15 shows that discrimination is far from dead and affirmative action is still necessary in our great state. It saddens and angers me that the women and minorities of Oklahoma are represented by such bigotry and outright ignorance. This rhetoric will drive new businesses and new jobs from our state. All no votes on this bill will stand on the right side of history."
The firestorm over her comments pushed Rep. Kern to send out an apology just after 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
"I want to humbly apologize for my statements last night about African Americans and women. I believe that our government should not provide preference based on race or gender. I misspoke while trying to convey this point last night during debate. Women are some of the hardest workers in the world. My husband is a pastor of a diverse inner-city church and the way that my words came out last night is certainly not my true spirit."
The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House by a vote of 59 - 14. The Senate already passed the amendment. Oklahomans will vote on it next year.