In Oklahoma, Can a Transgender Candidate Beat a Homophobe?

In Oklahoma, Democrat Brittany Novotny is running against a Republican incumbent, Sally Kern, for a seat in the State House. The race is an exciting match between a transgender woman, Novotny, and one of the most aggressively anti-gay politicians in the country.

Kern has made her stance against equality clear. In 2008, she said: “Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades.” She also compared gay people in a community to getting cancer on a toe, and claimed that gay people are “going after our young children.”

While Kern was spewing messages of hatred, Novotny had just finished her transition. She graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, and currently doesn’t view her transition as an issue.

Some of Kern’s supporters claim that Novotny, who identifies as a heterosexual woman, was recruited by the “homosexual lobby.” She is particularly unpopular among the group Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, which has held “Rallies for Sally.” In a mass e-mail, they stated that “The homosexual lobby from across America will be pouring money into this local race in an attempt to make a statement to the country by knocking out an outspoken Christian, pro-family representative.”

While Kern claims no responsibility over the messages spread by Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, she has attended events held by the group.

In response, Novotny said that Kern’s “agenda is a social one, not one to build a better community by focusing on economic development, jobs, small businesses, education and other issues that impact all Oklahomans.” Clearly, Novotny is focused on issues that are important to everyone and is truly interested in serving her community, despite the hatred that people are directing toward her.

Meanwhile, Kern seems to think that eliminating LGBT people will magically fix society. In 2009, she sponsored the signing of a morality proclamation that claimed the country’s economic problems were due to declining moral values.

It’s funny that people are claiming Novotny was recruited by the homosexual lobby, when she isn’t making social issues a big part of her campaign. Seems to me like people should be concerned by Kern promoting her conservative Christian, closed-minded agenda, not by Novotny working to help all Oklahomans, regardless of their stance on equality. Kern should stop relying on hate rhetoric to win over a crowd, and instead focus on how she’ll actually help Oklahomans.

Photo credit: Serge Melki