Ft. Lauderdale Doesn’t Want Your Tourist Dollars
August 21st, 2007
Mayor Jim Naugle is on a crusade to defend Ft. Lauderdale’s morals. First he wanted an automatic toilet to stop gay men from having sex. Then he declared that gay people are unhappy. Next he tried to block a collection of gay themed material from being housed in a city owned building. Finally, he staged an “apology” for not warning the residents of this terrible epidemic of public sex in bathrooms.
Now Naugle has support for his efforts to fight the “public heath crisis” – the usual collection of anti-gay activists that make bizarre and untruthful hyperbolic claims about the evils of “the homosexual lifestyle”.
- Americans for Truth (Peter LaBarbera)
- Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (Gary Cass previously of Reclaiming America for Christ)
- Christian Interaction Network (I think they just made this one up)
- Concerned Women for America (Matt “Bam Bam” Barber)
- Coral Ridge Ministries (Jerry Newcombe)
- Faith2Action (Janet Folger, previously of Coral Ridge and Center for Reclaiming America)
- Stephen Bennett Ministries (ex-gay gadfly Stephen Bennett)
- Worldwide Christian Center (O’Neal Dozier)
Naugle brought Dozier into town to give this message to Ft. Lauderdale’s residents:
God hates the act of homosexuality.
This, of course, is the same Dozier who shared with us this theological gem:
“Why is it one of the paramount of sins?” he poses. “Well, it is a very bad kind of sin because it really hurts society in so many ways.” God, however, found a way to punish the homosexuals through HIV-AIDS, he says. “It is a type of judgment for such a sin as this one, homosexuality.”
Naugle and his merry band of haters blared out their denunciations of the gay citizens of Ft. Lauderdale but, as Chanel 6 noted, “many lacked statistics to back up their claims”. In fact, the mayors claim of “eight arrests of people engaging in sexual activity in public restrooms over the last two years” is refuted by the police who report two arrests in the past three years. It’s hardly a “public health crisis” in either case.
But the mayor seems to have an most unusual intention for a city that thrives on tourism dollars. Here are a few comments of Naugle’s that suggest that some imaginary public health crisis of bathroom sex is not his real concern:
But the ironic thing is is that the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is even advertising in their vacation planner, the bath houses, which are one of the worst places for the spread of AIDS. And that’s another thing that I’m going to try to get changed here in Fort Lauderdale so that we can be a healthier community. We welcome homosexual tourists to our city, as long as visitors, whether they’re gay or straight, don’t engage in these activities.
In this case “these activities” are not public sex that threatens the kiddies at all… but sexual activity in a private context.
In a New York Times article, Naugle is clearer about what who he doesn’t want in his city:
A “climate of permissiveness” has developed in the city, he said, similar to when Fort Lauderdale was a magnet for rowdy spring breakers several decades ago.
“It has become kind of like the days of spring break,” he said, “when we ended up clamping down because people were jumping off balconies and other things. We are kind of going in that direction with the gay tourism.”
By surrounding himself with imported homophobes (Janet Folger, O’Neal Dozier, etc.) using language intended to be offensive, Naugle has given a very clear message to gay and lesbian travelers across the nation: we don’t want you in our city.
And until the local citizenry removes him, I’m inclined to honor his wishes.
UPDATE: The Sun-Sentinal has a story about Naugle’s little circus of bile. They mention that one of his speakers was NARTH’s Dr. John Diggs, the author of The Health Risks of Gay Sex which we parody here. His conclusion: “Approving same-sex relationships is detrimental to employers, employees and society in general.” His contribution to today’s nastiness:
“It should be clearly seen that homosexual acts have a key role in the spread of all sexually transmitted diseases,” Diggs said, adding that “homosexuality is an act, it’s not the nature of a person.”
My favorite response to the “facts” presented by Naugle and his moral crusaders came from a heath department official:
“if you torture a statistic long enough, it will confess to anything”