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White Stuns Lawmakers With Speech

Most people invited to speak to the Wisconsin Legislature give five minutes of pleasantries, get a few moments of applause and go home.

Lawmakers weren't expecting the earful Reggie White had in store for them Wednesday.

They thought the Green Bay Packers star and ordained minister came to talk about his community work and a recent trip to Israel.

White did, but his nearly hour-long speech also included remarks on homosexuality, race and slavery that turned the Assembly's applause to stunned silence.

White said the United States has gotten away from God, in part by allowing homosexuality to "run rampant."

"Homosexuality is a sin, and the plight of gays and lesbians should not be compared to that of blacks," White told lawmakers.

"Homosexuality is a decision, it's not a race," White said. "People from all different ethnic backgrounds live in this lifestyle. But people from all different ethnic backgrounds also are liars and cheaters and malicious and back-stabbing."

White said he has thought about why God created different races. Each race has certain gifts, he said.

Blacks are gifted at worship and celebration, White said.

"If you go to a black church, you see people jumping up and down because they really get into it," he said.

Whites are good at organization, White said.

"You guys do a good job of building businesses and things of that nature, and you know how to tap into money," he said.

"Hispanics were gifted in family structure, and you can see a Hispanic person, and they can put 20, 30 people in one home."

The Japanese and other Asians are inventive, and "can turn a television into a watch," White said. Indians are gifted in spirituality, he said.

"When you put all of that together, guess what it makes: It forms a complete image of God," White said.

White said later that his comments were about coming together as a society and were not meant to stereotype the races.

"This is the first time I've been at a loss for words," Assembly Minority Leader Walter Kunicki, D-Milwaukee, said after White's speech. "You can still tell from the tension in the room that much of this was offensive."

White was invited to speak by Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, R-Waukesha.

Jensen called White's comments about homosexuality "disappointing." Homosexuality is a genetic predisposition, not a decision, Jensen said.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat and the Legislature's only openly gay member, said she disagreed with White's remarks, but as a lawmaker believed in putting aside personal feelings to promote a "healthy debate."

CBS Sports spokeswoman Leslie Ann Wade declined to comment on White's speech or whether his remarks would affect his chances foa studio analyst's job. White has auditioned for a commentating job at the network.

CBS fired football analyst Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder in 1988 for saying that blacks had been "bred from slavery" to make better athletes.

"CBS doesn't accept bias from any of its announcers of any kind," Wade said.

White declined to comment on whether he will leave the Packers before the 1998 season.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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