VICTORY! Florida Lt. Governor Apologizes For Comments About Black Women and Lesbians

Two days after Equality Florida, in partnership with GLAAD, launched a petition to demand Florida Lt. Governor apologize her anti-gay and sexist comments about Black women and lesbians, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has apologized.

Today, her Chief of Staff faxed her written apology to Equality Florida and the Lt. Governor called Equality Florida’s Executive Director Nadine Smith to personally apologize for the words she used in refuting allegations brought by former staffer. Carroll wrote:

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone I may have offended with my recent comment. It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention. As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people."

Read the full letter here.

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 Equality Florida Nadine Smith, who also penned an op-ed for, launched a petition to demand the Lt. Governor apologize for making sexist and homophobic comments.

Tonight Nadine Smith said in a statement:

“I just got off the phone with Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll. Her Chief of Staff faxed her written apology and the Lt. Governor called to personally apologize for the words she used in refuting allegations brought by former staffer. In addition, Carroll expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to communicate her commitment to treating everyone with respect and dignity. She invited Equality Florida to reach out to her office if she could be of assistance and I offered our organization as a resource as well. On behalf of a Equality Florida, I want to thank Lt. Governor Carroll for taking responsibility for her words and for responding to the harm those words inflicted. Apologies by elected leaders for public mistakes are rare and it is to the Lt. Governor’s credit that she has taken this step. In Florida, which has no statewide legal protections from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, the words of our elected leaders matter a great deal."

Equality Florida is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for LGBT Floridians.

Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s President also commended the Lt. Governor’s actions and encouraged everyone to remember the impact of dangerous and hurtful stereotypes.

“With a severe lack of Black lesbian women and their stories in media, it’s important to correct these misconceptions early and aggressively,” said Herndon Graddick. “The Lt. Governor should use this incident as a way to publicly recognize Equality Florida and countless other advocates and allies across the country  who courageously speak out and challenge outdated and inaccurate views of our community.”