A politician worthy of your praise
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)--Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mayor Jim Naugle happens to believe that sex acts should not be permitted in his city's public restrooms. For that "bigoted" belief and others that have offended South Florida's -- indeed, the nation's -- homosexual lobby, he is under intense criticism, facing protest rallies, a recall effort and the scorn of Broward County elected officials.
I say, thank you, Mayor Naugle.
Naugle, a six-term and the longest-serving mayor in Fort Lauderdale's history, has been criticized by the homosexual lobby in the past because of his support for the Boy Scouts, who ban homosexual troop leaders.
The current controversy surrounding Naugle is summarized by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "In the past month, Naugle has charged the city has a problem with gay sex in public restrooms, said gays are unhappy and contended a gay library collection should be not housed in a public building. He also questioned whether the county should market to gay tourists because of the high rate of HIV infections in the area." By the way, that "gay library collection," it should be noted, includes "some adult content," according to CNN, and was approved over Naugle's objections.
If Naugle, a Democrat, was mayor of a city in one of the Sunshine State's more conservative cities, it would still be remarkable that he would be willing to take such courageous stands. That he has done it in Fort Lauderdale where there is a strong homosexual lobby and in a region that caters to homosexual tourism demonstrates a level of personal and political courage rare for elected officials.
To stem potential tourism boycotts from homosexual groups, the Broward County Commission (which has no authority over Naugle) voted to remove Naugle from the board of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. Commissioners also signed a letter which is being sent to homosexual news websites and convention planners, and says, "Greater Fort Lauderdale is a warmly welcoming destination that is safe, unbiased and gay friendly."
Naugle's views have made him the subject of much scorn and ridicule in South Florida news media. In a July 26 editorial, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel called Naugle a "serial insulter" guilty of "homophobic rants" pushing a "misguided agenda of bigoted bile."
In an indication that Naugle's stands have become national news, The New York Times recently interviewed the mayor who said although he is concerned about $1 billion generated by homosexual tourists and welcomes those tourists, "but I'm more concerned about protection of parks for our kids and saving lives."
"Frankly, people have been complacent with all this inclusiveness, political correctness," Naugle told The Times. "Our goal is to change behavior."
For his common-sense beliefs, a "Flush Naugle" campaign has been launched seeking his removal from office, although his current term ends in 2009 and he is ineligible for re-election.
"We are a diverse and yet united people, and we are not going to stand for bigotry and isolated point of view of this mayor," campaign organizer Dean Trantalis, a former city commissioner who is openly homosexual, told The New York Times. Trantalis told CNN, "No mayor, no public official, nobody should be able to talk about somebody else in such stereotyped and negative ways."
This is the idea of inclusiveness of the homosexual lobby -- all views are valid, except those which disagree with us, and we'll isolate you as a bigot if you have the temerity to say sex acts in public restrooms are wrong!
More remarkable still was Trantalis' statement to CNN that Naugle's comments on homosexual sex in public bathrooms was an attempt to "gain political advantage." Although Naugle has said that he likely will not pursue any other elected office, it's hard to see the political advantage he gains by so publicly opposing a powerful political lobby -- one that can generate local as well as nationwide negative publicity.
Further, Naugle is a life-long resident of Fort Lauderdale where he has been a realtor 30 years. To be willing to speak up on these matters -- even as reasonable as they are to mainstream people -- at the risk of offending the city's governing and business elite suggests to me that Naugle is not driven by "political advantage," but by genuine concern for the well-being of his community, even while risking his own standing with certain leaders in that community.
It's a fairly rare occasion when a politician deserves our praise, but this is one of those times and I hope you will take the trouble to show your appreciation for Mayor Naugle's common-sense, morally sound stand. Even if you do not live in Fort Lauderdale, you should offer thanks to him since he is receiving pressure from across the United States. He may be contacted via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southern Baptists who are concerned about upholding biblical standards of morality in our increasingly immoral society should stand with Mayor Naugle.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness.