Press

National groups call upon Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County commissions to repudiate mayor and reaffirm welcome of gay people

Date: 
August 02, 2007

Media Contacts:
Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358
rsklar@theTaskForce.org

Waymon Hudson
President, Fight OUT Loud
954-240-7966
waymon@fightoutloud.org

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — A coalition of 17 national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations is urging the City Commission of Fort Lauderdale and the Broward County Commission to pass resolutions condemning Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle’s recent anti-gay comments and reaffirming the area’s well-known welcome and support of LGBT people.

The coalition’s Aug. 2 letters, endorsed by the largest and most prominent national LGBT organizations, state that since Naugle made his defamatory comments in his official capacity, it is up to the commissions to officially and formally respond and assure the public that the mayor’s comments do not reflect the views of either Ft. Lauderdale or Broward County. The letters also cite the national implications generated by the widespread publicity over the controversy.

Naugle recently came under fire for claiming the city's proposal to buy a $250,000 robotic toilet for the beach would reduce “homosexual activity” in public restrooms. He reportedly went on to say that he used the term “homosexual” rather than “gay” because, in his estimation, homosexuals are “unhappy.” He has also been quoted as saying he agrees that “homosexuality is a criminal act.” The mayor added insult to injury with a July 24 press conference on the steps of City Hall where he erroneously said that Broward County had the nation’s highest number of new HIV infections among men who sleep with men (MSM) and questioned whether the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau should reach out to LGBT tourists. Some had expected the mayor to apologize at the press conference — not unleash another barrage of offensive remarks.

Local activists say they welcome the national organizations’ support.

“Our elected officials need to know that Mayor Naugle’s appalling behavior has drawn national attention with implications that reach far beyond Broward,” said Waymon Hudson, spokesman for UNITE Ft. Lauderdale, which organized a July 24 rally that attracted nearly 1,000 people. “We need both commissions to act quickly and affirmatively.”

“Our national community needs to hear loudly and clearly from the legislative bodies elected by the people that Mayor Naugle’s words only reflect his own personal and deplorable prejudices, not those of either the city or the county,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Resolutions repudiating the mayor and reaffirming that LGBT people are still honored and welcomed will go a long way in keeping this from causing permanent damage.”

“It’s almost beyond imagining that the mayor of any major city — let alone one with such a large LGBT community — would say such defamatory and deplorable things,” said Clarence Patton, acting executive director of the National Association of Anti-Violence Programs. “Even more than bringing shame and embarrassment to Ft. Lauderdale and Broward, Mayor Naugle’s words are the very kind of thing that fuel discrimination and hate violence.”

Hudson said UNITE Ft. Lauderdale had been in discussions with several members of both the city and county commissions and expect resolutions to be introduced in the near future with broad support.

Download the Aug. 2 letter to the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission

Download the Aug. 2 letter to the Broward County Commission

Letter signers:

Selisse Berry, Executive Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Jeremy Bishop, Executive Director, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Pride
Jimmy Creech, Executive Director, Faith In America, Inc.
Andrea Densham, Interim Executive Director, Mautner Project, The National Lesbian Health Organization
Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Neil Giuliano, President, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, former Mayor of Tempe, Ariz.
Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Clarence Patton, Acting Executive Director, National Association of Anti-Violence Programs
H. Alexander Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, National Black Justice Coalition
Patrick Sammon, President, Log Cabin Republicans
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Terry Stone, Executive Director, National Association of LGBT Community Centers
Lee Swislow, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Rachel B. Tiven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality
Jo Wyrick, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.