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Thursday, March 26, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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State Legislators Take Offense At Reggie White's Comments -- Packer Star's Comments On Gays, Races Stun Lawmakers

The AP

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin legislators weren't expecting the earful Reggie White gave them yesterday.

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

White did, but his nearly hour-long speech also included remarks on homosexuality and race 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.

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."

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Madison Democrat and the Legislature's only openly gay member, said she disagreed with White's remarks, but 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 for a studio analyst's job. White has auditioned for a commentator job at the network.

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

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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