ACLU Joins National Gay Rights Groups Calling on Fort Lauderdale City Commission to Condemn Mayor's Anti-Gay Remarks

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
August 2, 2007 12:00 am

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FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today announced it has joined forces with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in an open letter calling on the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission to promptly pass a resolution condemning Mayor Naugle’s recent series of hostile remarks about the City’s gay community. In recent years the City has become a prime vacation venue for gay tourists.

“The Mayor has a right to engage in free speech and express his prejudices, but others also have that same free speech right to condemn his narrow-mindedness,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “And the City Commission has a responsibility to speak as a body to prevent the Mayor’s slurs from damaging Fort Lauderdale’s otherwise well-deserved reputation as a tolerant, diverse and gay-friendly tourist destination and place to live.”

“It is time for Ft. Lauderdale’s City Commission to take action to demonstrate that the Mayor’s comments do not reflect the official position of the City,” said Robert F. Rosenwald, Jr., Director of the ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project. “The ACLU of Florida calls on the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission to immediately pass a resolution repudiating the mayor’s statements. Only by taking this action can the Commission hope to save the millions of tourism dollars that the mayor’s comments have put at risk and affirm Ft. Lauderdale’s position in the forefront of cities dedicated to diversity and equality.”

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Members of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission:

We are writing to support UNITE Ft. Lauderdale’s request that you promptly pass a resolution condemning Mayor Naugle’s insulting, hurtful and untrue comments and reaffirming Ft. Lauderdale’s welcome of and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

While we know that some of you have made individual statements rejecting the Mayor’s comments and said that he does not speak for you, the reality is that because the Mayor made his defamatory comments in his official capacity, it is up to you to officially and formally respond on behalf of the people of Ft. Lauderdale. Otherwise, your collective silence may be taken by others to mean that his comments actually do reflect the views of your city, not just the Mayor’s own personal and deplorable prejudices.

This is more than a local issue for two reasons. First, because the Mayor’s comments have received such widespread attention coast-to-coast, they defamed all LGBT people. Second, because the Mayor questioned whether the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau should be seeking the business of LGBT tourists, our national community needs to know that you continue to welcome us.

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward you moving on this resolution promptly.


Howard Simon, Executive Director, ACLU of Florida
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, AZ
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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