Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, made questionable remarks in the wake of a measure seeking to ban affirmative action programs advancing in the state, Tulsa World reports.
According to the local outlet:
Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said minorities earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and have less initiative.
“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”
In light of the proposed constitutional amendment in question clearing the state House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, the GOP lawmaker also suggested women earn less than their male counterparts because they generally spend more time in the home.
The AP recently reported on the legislation:
The measure [will] put on the 2012 election ballot a provision that the state may not grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin. The ban would apply to public employment, education and contracting.
Opponents say the proposal targets a non-existent problem. Several Democrats contend the bill is an attempt to use race to generate fear and draw conservative white voters to the polls.
The Oklahoman reports:
Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, one of the youngest members of the Legislature, said discrimination still occurs against women. She said she and her brother applied for home loans about the same time; her loan took longer to process and she had to make a larger down payment.
“I don't want a handout and I don't think any woman does,” she said.
Democratic state Rep. Jeannie McDaniel reportedly conveyed a similar sentiment, saying, “I don't believe women have reached their equal rights in Oklahoma," she said.