Jeb Bush angers gay rights groups

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 04 2002 11:00 PM ET

Florida governor Jeb Bush told a delegation of lawmakers that he had "some juicy details" regarding the sexual orientation of a missing Miami girl's caretakers. During a meeting on Wednesday, Bush implied that the two women, who had just been charged with fraud in an investigation into the disappearance of a child under the state welfare system's care, are lesbians.

"As [Pamela Graham] was being arrested, she told her coworkers, 'Tell my wife I've been arrested.' The wife is the grandmother, and the aunt is the husband," Bush explained, using his fingers to indicate quotation marks to emphasize the word grandmother. "Bet you don't get that in Pensacola," Bush told his guests, a group of lawmakers from Florida's panhandle.

Geralyn and Pamela Graham, who say they are sisters, were charged Wednesday with stealing more than $14,000 in public assistance. They were not charged in the disappearance of Rilya Wilson, who was missing 15 months before the state Department of Children and Families realized, in April, that she was gone. She would have turned 6 last Sunday.

The case threw a spotlight on the DCF, leading top child welfare administrators to quit and a blue-ribbon committee to examine the agency. But six months after the agency reported the girl missing, the $75,000 reward for finding her remains unclaimed, and no criminal charges have been filed.

Joshua Fisher, Pamela Graham's attorney, called the governor's comments "outrageous."
"He's making jokes when there is still a missing baby here, or doesn't he care?" Fisher said Thursday.

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, the state's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, called the comments "childish" and "locker-room homophobia."