Metro Weekly

WATCH: Anti-gay Republican compares homosexuality to pedophilia in horrifying debate

OU Regent Kirk Humphreys apologizes for comments amid calls for his resignation

Kirk Humphreys, Credit: KFOR

Former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (R.) shocked LGBTQ organizations, viewers at home and his Democratic opponent by comparing gay men to pedophiles during a debate.

Humphreys, who is also a member of the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents, was appearing on KFOR’s Flash Point opposite state Rep. Emily Virgin (D.) to discuss the upcoming special session of the Oklahoma legislature.

But it was during a conversation about sexual assault allegations against Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and President Donald Trump when Humphreys dropped a homophobic bomb that left Virgin momentarily speechless.

While debating the contrasts between Democrats and Republicans in their response to allegations of harassment and assault, Humphreys stopped Virgin and said, “Let me get this straight. You’re asserting that there is a right and wrong?”

“Correct,” Virgin said.

Humphreys then brought up Barney Frank, suggesting Virgin was defending the openly gay former Congressman. Virgin, caught off guard, said she had never defended him, prompting moderator Kevin Ogle to ask what Frank had done.

“Is homosexuality right or wrong? It’s not relative,” Hunphreys responded. “There’s a right and wrong. You just said it. So it’s either right or wrong.

“And if it’s okay, then it’s okay for everybody,” he continued. “And quite frankly, it’s okay for men to sleep with little boys, if it’s okay.”

Rep. Emily Virgin, reacting to Humphreys’ comments, Credit: KFOR

Virgin, stunned at Humphreys’ words, stared at him, before saying, “I’m unclear on what Barney Frank did, other than being a homosexual.” She gave Humphreys a chance to clarify whether Frank has been accused of anything, to which he reiterated his “right or wrong” argument.

Virgin attempted to state how unreasonable it was to compare Frank’s sexuality to Trump, Franken and Roy Moore being accused of making unwanted sexual advances, to which Humphreys responded by mentioning Ralph Shortey, the disgraced former state senator who pleaded guilty to child sex trafficking after being found in a motel room with a 17-year-old boy.

“That was consensual,” he said. “But it was with a kid.”

“Children cannot consent,” Virgin clarified.

Humphreys later reiterated: “All I’m saying is there’s a right and a wrong.” Virgin replied, “I don’t think that homosexuality is wrong,” to which Humphreys responded, “Well, I do.”

Watch the full exchange below, starting around 6:50:

Humphreys quickly came under harsh criticism for his comments from LGBTQ advocates, OU board members, other politicians, and even his son, Blair Humphreys, a real estate developer, who called his father’s comments “hurtful and unfair,” according to the Associated Press.

Humphreys later apologized for his comments, telling The Oklahoman via text that he didn’t mean to equate “homosexuality and pedophilia.”

“That was not my intention or desire,” Humphreys said. “I apologize for my lack of clarity and realize this has resulted in a strong reaction by some and has hurt people’s feelings.

“For clarification, my moral stance about homosexuality is that it is against the teachings of Scripture. Although, I know that upsets some people, it is my belief. In America, we have the right to believe as we choose and to freely express that belief,” he added.

OU President David Boren attempted to distance the university from Humphreys’ remarks, issuing a statement saying that the board member “was speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the university or me.”

“I do not share his views on this matter,” the statement read. “The university strongly reaffirms and takes great pride in its commitment to a welcoming, diverse and inclusive community which respects people of all backgrounds. We value and respect all members of our university family.”

Gov. Mary Fallin (R) issued a statement saying she disagrees with the comments but noted that Humphreys has apologized. She does not feel he should resign.

In contrast, Virgin has called on Humphreys to resign. In a Facebook post acknowledging that she was “completely caught off guard” by his words, Virgin called Humphreys’ comments “disgusting, offensive, and just plain wrong.”

“It is clear his remarks have been very hurtful to the LGBTQ community at OU,” Virgin told The Oklahoman by text. “I’ve heard from many students and their main concern is that Mr. Humphreys, who is set to become chair of the Board, will have an important role in selecting the next President of the University.

“The bottom line is that OU students need to feel welcome at their university, whether gay or straight, black or white, religious or not. Regent Humphreys’ statements about the LGBTQ community fly in the face of the inclusiveness that makes the university setting a special and welcoming place,” she added.

The LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma called for Humphreys to resign from the Board of Regents and his position as chairman of the board of John Rex Charter Elementary School in Oklahoma City.

“To compare gay men — and specifically Congressman Barney Frank — to pedophiles and sexual predators is a step way too far,” the group’s executive director, Troy Stevenson said in a statement. “LGBTQ youth are subjected to horrific harassment, intimidation, and bullying on a daily basis, and having bias and hate validated by a public official and leader like Mayor Humphreys is disheartening and frankly dangerous. 

“I hope the former mayor knows the abuse of those kids increases every time someone like him makes a hateful statement — like he did [Sunday] morning.”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!