Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sally Kern, meet Brittany Novotny.

Talk about chickens coming home to roost!

As reported by Tulsa World via HuffPo, Sally Kern, a Republican State Representative from Oklahoma City, who made a national name for herself by publicly declaring any current or future societal decline on the increasing acceptance of the "homosexual agenda" or the "gay lifestyle", has a new challenger for her seat this Fall -- someone who is already getting national attention herself.

Brittany Novotny is an Oklahoma City attorney who was raised as a male, who, as an adult, decided to legally and surgically transition to fully female -- a heterosexual one, at that.  It is not stated whether she was born anatomically, fully male or if, as a result of being born a hermaphrodite, her parents opted to assign a sex for the baby.  It's an interesting distinction that should in no way matter, but -- considering Oklahoma is one of the country's more conservative places -- I imagine people would have less trouble understanding how someone born a hermaphrodite (or intersex, a more preferred term) wanted to correct a sex assignment made in infancy that is at odds with one's own personal gender identity versus someone born fully male opting to become fully female.  The fact that, either way, it is merely a desire to bring one's sex into synch with one's gender identity should erase any distinction, but I believe many people would make it nonetheless.

But I digress.

Regardless of the nuances of sexual and gender identities involved, Ms. Kern's seat now has the attention of a lot of people outside her district who cannot vote but can make a lot of news and send a lot of money.  But, as Ms. Novotny suggests, Kern brought this on herself by choosing to focus on stereotyping rather than dealing with the everyday problems her district and state face.  Instead of making a name for herself by solving any number of problems a city like Oklahoma City might face, she decided to call homosexuality a bigger threat to our country than terrorism -- and this from a lady whose city is the site of the Murrah Building bombing!  In 2009, according to Tulsa World, she decided that a good use of her time was to sponsor "a signing of a morality proclamation that declared that the country's economic decline was a result of a decline in moral values."  Somehow, I don't think she was talking about the declining moral values of Wall Street here, do you?

Kern says she will take the high road and not bring up her opponent's transition, but she won't need to; plenty of others will (including me, apparently).  But here's the delicious irony: Novotny isn't gay.  It would be so much easier to set up the "them" vs. "us" banners if she were; it would be so much easier to stereotype type her (and the "agenda" she would surely represent) if she were; it would be so much easier to point an accusatory finger at her "lifestyle" if she were.  But she's not, so Kern can't. Others will try, but at the end of the day what we have is two straight women with very different political views squaring off against each other.  And what the voters of Oklahoma City will have to decide -- and the rest of us, vicariously, from the sidelines -- is:  what constitutes "difference", to what extent does it matter, and who is the best person for the job.