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Naugle booted
from tourism board

Naugle booted
from tourism board

Officials in Broward County, Fla., voted unanimously Tuesday to remove Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle from the board that markets their region to tourists because of his antigay remarks, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

"I had hoped that this would die on its own, but Mayor Naugle continues to push his own agenda, and that is having an increasing impact on our community," Broward County Commissioner Stacy Ritter, who proposed removing him, told the newspaper. "He has continued to escalate his rhetoric, and we cannot be silent."

Naugle's antigay pronouncements, starting with June remarks that gays are "unhappy" and, contrary to police statements, habitually have sex in the city's public toilets, have been reported across the country and seemingly deterred visitors to the generally gay-friendly city.

A $250,000 convention has been shelved, and a group that plans African-American family reunions has questioned Fort Lauderdale's acceptance of diversity, tourism officials told the paper. (The Democratic mayor has also made remarks that angered black people.) Normally, LGBTs make up nearly 10% of Fort Lauderdale's visitors, spending an estimated $1 billion annually there.

Members pleaded with him August 7 to cease his rhetoric before voting to remove him from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Tourism Development Council, but he did the opposite, going on radio and TV to expound to a larger audience.

"Hate is something that is simply unacceptable and now has become costly to the county as well," commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin told the Sun-Sentinel.

"By removing Naugle from this position, the commission sends a clear message that Broward County does not allow this type of divisive discourse and truly welcomes all. It is the first, strong step in repairing the extensive damage Naugle has done," Waymon Hudson of the LGBT rights group Fight Out Loud said Wednesday in a written statement.

Naugle's term on the tourism board was to expire next year, as does his term as mayor. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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