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Another Florida politician has come out--but this time under better circumstances than those of disgraced congressman Mark Foley.
While Foley was forced out of the closet because of a scandal involving underage male pages, J.P. Sasser, mayor of tiny, conservative Pahokee, proudly admits his sexual orientation. In a Sunday story in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Sasser said his orientation hasn't been an issue during his last three terms as mayor. "I am not a gay mayor," he told the Sun-Sentinel. "I am a mayor who is gay,"
Sassar, who has been with his partner for 15 years, claims he's not a gay activist but will stand up against homophobes: "If I am somewhere and I hear someone say a negative remark or go on a little tirade, then I will identify myself."
Pahokee, population 6,500, is near Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. It's a town where the number of people living below the poverty level is three times the national average.
"I have more pressing issues [than gay issues]," Sassar told the Sun-Sentinel. "I have people who have to choose between eating or taking their medicine."
Sassar's orientation has long been known, and yet he is a popular mayor of Pahokee, a town more reflective of the South than South Florida.
"I can guarantee you, the people who voted for him knew that he's gay," Jim Sheehan, an employee of Everglades Adventures, told the Sun-Sentinel. "I don't hear, 'J.P. is the gay mayor.' I hear, 'J.P. is the best mayor Pahokee's ever had,' even by some of his detractors."
The only other gay mayors in Florida are in Key Biscayne and North Miami. (The Advocate)