In early December 2017, Kirk Humphreys, a former Oklahoma City mayor and a member of the University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents, touched off a firestorm when he appeared to compare homosexuality to pedophilia in an appearance on the discussion program Flash Point.
He made the comment during an exchange with Oklahoma state Representative Emily Virgin prompted by the topic sexual of harassment, Humphreys seemingly averred that homosexuality was "wrong" and linked it to pederasty:
Humphreys: Is homosexuality right or wrong? It's not relative. There's a right and wrong, you just said it. If it’s OK, then it's OK for everybody and quite frankly it's OK for men to sleep with little boys if it's OK.
Virgin: I’m unclear on what Barney Frank did other than being a homosexual. Are you saying there was some inappropriate conduct on his part? Because I’m not aware of that.
Humphreys: I’m saying there is a standard of right and wrong. In our society we’ve gotten to where — I’m going to make a lot of people mad today — we’ve gotten to where there's no right or wrong, it’s just all relative. It's not all relative.
Virgin: But Kirk, to compare Barney Frank being a homosexual to Al Franken or John Conyers or the president or Roy Moore making unwanted —
Many immediately condemned Humphrey's remarks, including Virgin and Troy Stevenson, executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit, Freedom Oklahoma:
The Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma is charged with the honorable duty of care and loyalty to our beloved institution. We take great pride in the value of the many diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences of our students, faculty and professional staff. The Board disagrees with the recent public statements made by Regent Kirk Humphreys regarding homosexuality and we reiterate our commitment to fairness and inclusion throughout the University community.
Humphreys himself put out a statement attempting to distance himself from the pedophilia comparison, while maintaining his stance against homosexuality:
I regret that my comments on Flash Point regarding homosexuality were not clear and led some people to believe that I was equating homosexuality with pedophilia. That was not my intention or desire. 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 this upsets some people, it is my belief. In America we have the right to believe as we choose and to freely express that belief.
For those that I have hurt, I’m sorry. For those who do not share my beliefs, I will defend your right to have a deeply held belief even if yours is different than mine.
Humphreys also took part in a joint press conference with Freedom Oklahoma, during which he apologized and expanded on his previous remarks:
I have watched the show more times that I can count - and I am sorry. Some of the things I said do not reflect what I believe or the way that I have tried to live.
Let me be clear, I do not think that homosexuality in any way disqualifies a person from full participation as a citizen in our community including service in public office. At no point in my public or private life have I sought to take any action that precludes or otherwise diminishes the opportunity for every person to be treated as equals.
To be candid, I brought up Barney Frank as a partisan counterpoint in the heat of the moment. I intended to reference the scandal early in his career - and then simply couldn't remember the details. At that point my argument went off the rails and I said some things that I deeply regret.
Further, I do not think that it is right or appropriate to equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Preying on children is always wrong, no matter who you are or what political view you hold.
Perhaps my greatest regret is that I've hurt a lot of people. I know I should always seek to speak the truth in love. I failed to clearly convey what I believe to be true and my tone was not loving. I apologize for my failure.
Humphreys announced on 21 December 2017 that he would resign from OU Board of Regents, saying during a special meeting with the board that: “Even though this Board can’t remove me, I did not want my presence on the board to be a problem to the regents or to make the path of the university more difficult.”