Forty to fifty gay activists with Flush Naugle gathered at the Fort Lauderdale City Hall on Tuesday to protest comments made by six-term Mayor Jim Naugle surrounding the proposed installation of a $250,000 self-cleaning, robotic toilet there. Naugle, who claims he uses the word "homosexual" rather than "gay" because gay people "are unhappy," has said that an added plus to having the toilets is that they would keep gay people from using the facilities for public sex.
Naugle has also refused to approve the move of the Stonewall Library and Archives to the Broward City Library.
The protest, meant to be the prelude to a larger protest next week, moved from City Hall steps into the Commission chambers.
Dean Trantalis, the city's first openly gay commissioner, spoke at the protest, saying, "Mayor, only a great man can admit his mistakes. We are asking you to apologize. I ask this of you because the only other alternative is for you to resign."
Naugle has said, "Sometimes [public restrooms] are used for sexual activity -- most of it is men meeting men because it's same-sex people in the bathrooms." He added, "We're trying to provide a family environment where people can take their children who need to use the bathroom without having to worry about a couple of men in there engaged in a sex act."
The mayor has also embellished his comments with despicable comments about gay people in general: "I don't use the word 'gay.' I use the word 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."
The protest at the City Commission meeting was peaceful, and as Naugle convened the meeting of commissioners, protesters present in the chamber got up to leave, but not before letting Naugle know their feelings. According to the Sun-Sentinel, "gay activist Michael Albetta stood up and shouted: 'Mayor, we ask you, the city of Fort Lauderdale, to resign!'" with Naugle responding, "Thank you, I'm not resigning."
The controversial toilet was brought up at the meeting last night as well, and "city commissioners ... voted unanimously to delete it from the proposed budget."
Lauderdale's Naugle shrugs off gay protest [miami herald]
Gay activists ask Fort Lauderdale mayor to resign over offensive comments [sun-sentinel]
Flush Naugle [official site]
UPDATE: Flush Naugle has taken out ads in the Sun-Sentinel and New Times asking the mayor to resign. See the ad and read part of the press release after the jump...
The group said in a press release issued today:
“Unite Fort Lauderdale continues to fight against Mayor Naugle’s bigoted views and send a message to the community that the mayor no longer represents this city and should resign. The ads are open letters to the mayor featuring several quotes that show his insensitivity and lack of respect for the diversity of all members of the community. These quotes are in direct contrast with the first value listed in Fort Lauderdale’s Vision Statement- ‘Respect for the dignity of our citizens and co-workers, and for the diversity of all groups.’ The purpose of the ads is to show that Mayor Naugle’s insensitivity and ignorance extends beyond the gay and lesbian community. Over the years, Mayor Naugle has offended teachers, police officers, and fire fighters with his comments about those who can’t afford housing in the city. He has offended the African-American community by referencing lynching and through his comments made during the Sistrunk Blvd. debate. His comments also show that he does not take important issues seriously, often making flippant remarks about serious topics. For example, he said global warming was concocted by ‘a bunch of scientists meeting in Paris who’ve had too much wine.’ One of the ads run in the Sun-Sentinel, which the mayor has referred to as the ‘scum-sentinel’.”