Pastor Steve Kern (photo: Patrick B. McGuigan / The City-Sentinel)

Pastor Steve Kern (photo: Patrick B. McGuigan / The City-Sentinel)

Scott J. Hamilton, the executive director of Oklahoma’s Cimarron Alliance and a great friend of Truth Wins Out, challenged “Patriot Pastor” Steve Kern, husband of the notoriously anti-gay Sally Kern, to a lunch meeting for the purpose of open and honest dialogue. Though the Kerns won’t be changing their voting habits any time soon, Scott reports that their meeting was productive in that they found common ground and common humanity during their time together — more than you might think, in fact:

Choosing to meet on the neutral ground of Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, Scott J. Hamilton, executive director of the Cimarron Alliance and vocal advocate of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, came away from his lunch-hour meeting with right-wing “Patriot Pastor” Steve Kern with a sense of hope and cautious optimism.

“It wasn’t awkward. It wasn’t uncomfortable … honestly, it felt like we had known each other for a long time,” Hamilton told Red Dirt Report on Tuesday afternoon.

Hamilton, who is gay, said the two – both fervent Christians but from opposite sides of the political spectrum – met for over an hour, talking and sharing, agreeing and disagreeing, and ultimately realizing that deep down both of them had more in common than not.

“The reason I wanted us to get together was to explore what we might have in common,” recounted Hamilton.

Hamilton didn’t back down from giving Kern the message that the divisive rhetoric coming from him and his wife was hurting people, but is hopeful that the dialogue is the beginning, however slowly, of a greater understanding between the two sides. And again, they found that they had a lot in common:

Essentially, Hamilton said, they broke bread together at the well-established eatery in Oklahoma City’s stockyards, discovering that they have similar passions, regarding their faith and to social justice.

They both have, he said, “a deep Christian commitment. A commitment to helping the poor, the disenfranchised, the underserved, the marginalized.”

Hamilton said he actually got excited when Kern shared with him some of the programs he was holding at the church – programs helping those in need.

Yet, noting that the rigid, anti-gay rhetoric coming from conservative, Christian “Patriot Pastors” doesn’t serve the Christian church well, considering how so many young people have “left the faith of their parents” in recent years, or are on “other faith journeys,” or are fed up with narrow-minded anti-gay “haters,” Hamilton said the church – regardless of where you stand on social issues – is affected negatively by this hateful rhetoric.

“And so the rhetoric doesn’t serve us well,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said Kern, whose wife is State Rep. Sally Kern (R-Bethany), said that the two realize that some of her controversial statements in recent years – including those directed at the gay community – deserve to be reflected upon with the passage of time.

The article points out that Sally Kern will be pushed out of office by term limits at the end of her current term, but Steve is planning for running for office after her.

There are many, many fronts in the worldwide fight for LGBT equality, and in places like Oklahoma, where homophobia is often as knee-jerk as it is ignorant, it’s vital to have people like Scott, who are willing to cross the lines to try to show the other side that, at the very least, we are people. Kudos to him and to the Cimarron Alliance for all the hard work they do.