A handful of Oklahoma state senators walked out before the chamber’s daily prayer after the reverend at the lectern took aim at a sitting senator’s recent comments.
“Should have deemed it wrong, Senator Dahm. You don’t have to take it back. It's still sexist. It is still misogynistic,” Rev. Dr. Lee Cooper Jr. of Prospect Baptist Church said from the dais.
At least five senators walked during his message Thursday morning.
Cooper was referring to Dahm's, R-Broken Arrow, sexual innuendo involving paper straws and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I’m not going to apologize for starting that conversation or apologize for my comments that have led to these conversations,” Dahm told reporters Tuesday.
At least five Republican senators walked out during the message.
Cooper said he stands by his comments, telling News 9 and News On 6 his message Thursday was a call to unity and raising the standard of civil discourse.
“The prophetic word of God really requires of us to speak the truth and speak the truth to power and sometimes that’s difficult,” Cooper said.
The reverend was the Senate’s chaplain of the week as a guest of Sen. George Young, D-OKC.
“I thought he brought a very strong spiritual message that talked about the things that are occurring, but not only in our nation, but in our state and our city and I thought it was very, very appropriate,” Young said.
The chamber entered an executive session following Cooper’s comments. Young said the remarks were the subject of conversation during the closed-door meeting.
“It was certainly not my intent to violate any rules, but the truth is still the truth and we must speak the truth to power,” Cooper said.
Sen. President Pro Tem. Greg Treat, R-OKC, would not comment on the pastor’s comments. Following Dahm’s innuendo, Treat issued a statement calling the remarks “misogynistic, disrespectful (and) immature."
Senate Democrats filed a formal complaint saying Dahm violated the body's code of conduct and ethical standards.