Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle attended a meeting of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau board on Thursday, and board members demanded Naugle stop his attacks on the gay community. Naugle was defiant, CBS4 reports:
Said executive director Nikki Grossman: “The damage has been done to the destination. We need to get back to work fixing it. The rhetoric needs to stop and the anger, the mischaracterizations and the hurtful mean-spirited rhetoric has to stop.”
Oina Lee of Travel Host magazine pleaded with Naugle: “I’m asking you to stop. I’m really asking you to stop.
According to Waymon Hudson of Fightoutloud.org, “Board members said that each time the mayor speaks they receive hundreds of E-mails from potential visitors to Ft Lauderdale, saying they plan to take their money elsewhere. One board member said a 200-person group was scheduled to stay at a prominent hotel in Ft Lauderdale. In light of Naugle’s comments, they have placed the reservation, along with $250,000 in revenue, on hold. These concerns have come from not only gay and lesbian travelers, but from other tourists as well. They have said they no longer see the Greater Fort Lauderdale area as a welcoming or safe place to travel.”
Said Naugle to the tourism board: “I am the Mayor that’s not going to back down. One of the things that my dad taught me is that it isn’t always about the money. It’s about doing what’s right.”
Mayor Larry Gierer of Oakland Park, a city just to the north of Fort Lauderdale, spoke to the Sun-Sentinel‘s Michael Mayo about Naugle. Gierer is openly gay and HIV-positive.
Said Gierer: “He should think a little bit more before he speaks. But the scary part is, maybe he is thinking. Let me start by saying that I’m truly a happy homosexual. And not only that, I’m a happy homosexual who is HIV-positive. So he really slaps me upside the head. [Naugle is] a flashback to Anita Bryant. His logic, his views…it just sounds antiquated and foolish. He needs to dust the cobwebs off, because so many people have happy homosexuals in their life. I just think he’s grasping at straws. It’s a way for him to get the spotlight. If he wants to save lives, then promote the use of condoms.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday night Bill O’Reilly gave Naugle a good five minutes to air his fearmongering anti-gay views on national, television, unchallenged. No opposing view was offered.
Flush Naugle [official site]
Tourism Board Wants Mayor To Stop Anti-Gay Remarks [cbs4] (video)
Tourism leaders demand Naugle stop gay attacks [sun-sentinel]
Michael Mayo column: Gay mayor urges Naugle to ‘dust the cobwebs off’ [sun sentinel]