The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into death threats against a state lawmaker who told a political group that the gay agenda poses a bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism and "is just destroying this nation," an OSBI spokeswoman said Tuesday.
OSBI agents met with Kern, of Oklahoma City, at the state Capitol Monday afternoon after she received thousands of e-mails and telephone calls from people reacting to her comments to a group of Republicans about gays and their lifestyle.
"I'm not gay-bashing. But according to God's word that is not the right kind of lifestyle," Kern said in the recorded comments.
"Studies show no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than a few decades," she said. "It is not a lifestyle that is good for this nation."
Kern said a few of the e-mails she received supported her comments but that most condemned them and some contained death threats and obscenities.
"I hear what you said and you should be killed...," said one e-mail.
"You honestly think that homosexuality is a greater threat than terrorism?" said another. "How someone as petulant and vile as yourself got elected to office, I will never understand."
A spokeswoman for OSBI, Jessica Brown, said three agents are investigating the threatening e-mails to determine their source and determine whether the threat is genuine.
"We're pouring over thousands of e-mails," Brown said. "You have to pick out the ones that are threatening and the ones that are harassing.
"We have to work through them and then track them down through various investigative means and try to determine their intent and then take it to the district attorney," she said.
When asked Tuesday whether she was concerned about her safety, Kern said: "You need to talk to the OSBI."
Kern has said her recorded comments were taken out of context and were directed at wealthy, politically active gays who support gay and lesbian candidates for public office in Oklahoma and other states.
"I was talking about an agenda. I was not talking about individuals," said Kern, the wife of a Baptist minister. "They have the right to choose that lifestyle. They do not have the right to force it down our throat.
"I have never said hate speech against anybody. I would never do that."
Kern's comments were condemned by various groups including the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. The Victory Fund said Kern's comments had received more than 530,000 hits on YouTube.
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, said the group does not condone threats that have been directed at Kern.
"We're not standing by anybody who is making any kinds of threats against her," Wolfe said.
But he said Kern needs to understand that her words have outraged thousands of people.
"We can have a political dialogue without that kind of speech," he said. "There's no way you can get away from those kinds of comments."
In a letter to Kern, Wolfe said her words could have real-life consequences.
"What you said is not OK, but that's not because most sensible people disagree with it," Wolfe said. "It's because your words give aid and comfort to those who would hurt, maim and even kill people who are different from you.
"The point of the Victory Fund's releasing your speech was to draw attention to the fact that even elected leaders like you are saying some nasty and potentially dangerous things about your fellow citizens," he said. "Our mission is to elect people to counter your hate and bigotry with honesty and courage."