Groups decry anti-gay comments by Ft. Lauderdale mayor08/23/07 Seán Kinane
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Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle is engaged in what some are calling a fierce campaign of hate against Broward County’s gay and lesbian residents and tourists.
Anthony Niedwiecki is the Vice President of Fight Out Loud; one of the organizations that helped organize recent rallies against Mayor Naugle. Niedwiecki described a July 4th article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel with remarks from the mayor that started the recent controversy.
In that article, Naugle said he used the term "homosexual" instead of "gay" because most aren’t happy. Since that article, supporters of gay and lesbian rights, including Fight Out Loud have rallied against the mayor. Naugle also spoke at a city commission meeting claiming that a library contained pornography.
Fight Out Loud and other groups organized Town Hall Meetings and rallies that drew up to 1,000 people. Naugle said he would issue an apology, but it turned out to be a dupe.
On Tuesday, Naugle held another press conference, this time with what Niedwiecki called controversial religious leaders.
Today was the first meeting of the Tourism Development Council since Naugle’s comments.
Francine Mason is the vice president of communications for the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Bureau wants the Mayor to tone down his rhetoric.
Mason said the Visitors Bureau is asking Mayor Naugle to stop undermining the welcoming environment of Ft. Lauderdale.
But Mason said she did not know how the mayor would respond to their request.
Fight Out Loud’s Niedwiecki said that the mayor’s rhetoric could lead to hate crimes against the gay and lesbian community.
Some groups are trying to see if the Broward County Commission and the Ft. Lauderdale City Commission will formally censure Naugle or whether Gov. Charlie Crist will take action.
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