The leader of Florida's largest LGBT civil rights group is petitioning for an apology from Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who provoked a national backlash with comments about black lesbians as she denied that she herself is a lesbian.
Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida, launched the petition drive on July 25.
Carroll is embroiled in a scandal that involves a former aide alleging that she was fired after walking in on the lieutenant governor in a sexually "compromising position" with another female staffer. Responding, Carroll told reporters earlier this month, "Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that."
Smith said, "As a black lesbian from Florida, I personally felt the sting of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's words. Instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped black lesbians in order to deflect her own charges. With that one quick statement, Lt. Gov. Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm."
She continued, "Despite the lieutenant governor's attempt to portray lesbians like me as so very different from her, we actually have a great deal in common. I too am married and a mother. The difference is my marriage is not legally recognized and I've had to fight for the legal right to be a parent to my son."
Carroll is the highest-ranking black woman ever to serve in Florida government.
"Whether the allegations that she abused her authority are true or not is for a court to decide," said Smith. "But I launched this petition in hopes that others who are as outraged as I am can join me in calling on the lieutenant governor to show the strength of character to apologize for stereotyping black women in general and lesbians in particular."
The petition is online at http://www.change.org/petitions/she-said-what.