No doubt Jim Naugle’s left an indelible – and detestable – mark on Fort Lauderdale and the surrouding communities.
The anti-homo mayor made headlines when he first asked the city to pay for robo-toilets, a $250,000 investment he hoped would curb queer public sex.
The measure didn’t go through, but it’s raised sociosexual tensions to a boiling point.
Since then, we’ve already seen Naugle booted from the tourism board and censured by his peers, but the mayor’s still sitting pretty and with loads of allies. While a number of black pastors lend Naugle their support, another group of black people are gearing up for a war of Biblical proportions.
As we’ve already scene, a coalition of primarily black pastors have come out to celebrate Naugle’s “courage” in standing up against the “satanic” gays. While homophobic minister Dr. O’Neal Dozier decries “satanic” gays, NAACP president Marsha Ellison’s decrying Dozier:
All races are affected by AIDS – the young, the old, and a true leader seeks real problems and real solutions. The NAACP says this is not about AIDS, it is about his hate for the gay community and that’s why we’re here today.
Ellison’s hardly the only black person incensed over Naugle’s anti-queer crusade, nor are all Naugle’s enemies secular. Though Dozier and his God-fearing peers have been getting lots of media attention, there’s another, more rational group of believers who believe Naugle’s a nutter. Take, for example, Archbishop Bruce Simpson. Not associated with the official Catholic Church, Simpson’s church, Benedictine Order of St. John the Beloved does prescribe to many of the Catholic leanings – except homophobia. Of Naugle, Simpson says,
I urge the people of Fort Lauderdale to shun the religious right, reject their message, and pull the plug on Mayor Naugle’s abuse of power and flush his political career down the toilet.
The lines have been drawn, but some question where – and why – the battle begins. While Ellison and her colleagues have framed the issue as one of civil rights, others are calling it a religious war. Former NAACP president Mathes Guice says,
Based on the calls I’m getting, people are asking why is the NAACP presenting this as a civil rights issue, which it is not… It is actually a spiritual and sin issue, and she is not capable of understanding the difference.
Regardless of what you call it, it’s clear Naugle’s sparked quite an upset in Florida. Who knew toilets could cause such drama?