Earlier this month, Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll was accused of having a sexual relationship with one of her female staff members. In response to the allegations, the Lt. governor told reporters "Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that."
Immediately, Black women from around the country spoke up to criticize Carroll for her comments and to share their stories including LGBT activist Kimberley McLeod, from The National Black Justice Coalition, and Aisha and Danielle Moodie Mills, two DC-based lesbian women who were the first to be featured in Essence Magazine's wedding section. Doria Roberts (via The Huffington Post) launched the #ThisisWhatALesbianLooksLike hashtag which many women used to show the diversity of the lesbian community and now Equality Floridia's Founding Executive Director Nadine Smith, who also penned an op-ed for TheGrio.com, is launching a Change.org petition to demand the Lt. Governor apologize for making sexist and homopbic comments.
From Nadine Smith:
Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll drew the national spotlight for stereotyping Black lesbians to deflect a brewing scandal.
A former staffer claims she was by fired shortly after walking in on Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll having sex with a female subordinate in her office.
As a black lesbian from Florida, I personally felt the sting of Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll's words when she said, "Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that."
Instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped Black lesbians in order to deflect charges. With that one quick statement, Lt. Governor Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm.
The Lt. Governor is the highest ranking Black women in Florida government. Saying that women who “look like” her aren’t lesbians is not just vain and mean-spirited, it is utterly dishonest.
Despite the Lt. 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. We even share the same birthday and like the Lt. Governor I joined the military out of high school. The difference is my marriage is not legally recognized, I've had to fight for the legal right to be a parent to my son and I could not stay in the military at a time when being gay people had to be invisible or risk a court martial.
Whether the allegations she abused her authority are true or not is for a court to decide.