Oklahoma rebukes lawmaker who suggested blacks, women lazy

OKLAHOMA CITY Mon May 2, 2011 8:39pm EDT

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Oklahoma state House on Monday voted overwhelmingly to reprimand one of its own members for suggesting that African-Americans and women are lazy during a debate on the House floor last Wednesday.

Sally Kern, a Republican lawmaker from Oklahoma City who sparked a firestorm three years ago with comments about gay people, gave a tearful, 10-minute apology on Monday. Then, her colleagues approved the reprimand by a 76-16 vote.

During a debate last week about affirmative action, Kern, who is white, talked about why there are a disproportionate number of black people in prison.

"Is this just because they're black that they're in prison or could it be because they didn't want to work hard in school?" Kern asked, according to an official transcript.

"I taught school for 20 years and I saw a lot of people of color who didn't want to work as hard -- they wanted it given to them," she added.

Kern also said that "women usually don't want to work as hard as a man" because "women tend to think a little more about their family."

Kern, first elected in 2004, told her colleagues on Monday she was sorry.

"My words do not represent my heart and my actions of the last 60 years," she said.

"I've asked the Lord to forgive me for my careless words," she added. "I hope you will find it in your heart to accept it."

In 2008, Kern made headlines for saying that "the homosexual agenda is destroying this nation." She said of homosexuality: "I honestly think it's the biggest threat that our nation has, even more than terrorism or Islam."

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune)

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