Fort Lauderdale Dist. 2 Commission candidate Tim Smith said he doesn’t think the commission “need[s] a gay person.”
Smith, a former city commissioner, made the comment during the Jan. 9 Dist. 2 debate at city hall. Video of the debate can be seen on True Broward TV’s Facebook page.
Also running for the seat, which is being vacated by Dean Trantalis because he is running for mayor, are Steve Glassman, Chad Maxey, Lester Zalewski, and George Castrataro. The election is Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Smith was responding to a question from Sun Sentinel reporter Brittany Wallman about an ad by
Castrataro, a gay man. In the ad, Castrataro stated it was important to have LGBT representation on the commission.
“I like Lester’s answer,” said Smith, referring to Zalewski’s statement about how discrimination of any kind is against the Constitution and the values of America. “The truth is I don’t think we need a gay person on the commission. But if we vote in anybody that is homophobic, or a racist, or a bigot, shame on us. We cannot do that. The gays have been so instrumental in Dist. 2, particularly,” Smith said.
“The gays?” asked Glassman, who is gay.
“Steve, I guess you wanted to interject ‘the gays.’ Gay people. That’s what I call them. LGBT. They’ve been so instrumental, like you, Steve, at the beach,” responded Smith.
Smith went on to say his brother was the victim of a “gay bashing” and that he defended the LGBT community in the past when he went up against the Boy Scouts for its then policy of not allowing gay members.
According to an Oct. 1, 2000 article by the St. Petersburg Times, Smith “launched a campaign to eliminate a $4,200 public grant to a local scouting program. Smith is not gay, but his district includes Victoria Park, where thousands of gays and lesbians have invested heavily, creating one of the city's most desirable neighborhoods.”
“Now, we do not need a gay person, George, what we need is a person who judges people on the content of their character and nothing else,” Smith said.
“My ad simply said the gay community needed a voice. It didn’t say that a person needed to be gay to be on the commission. I think there’s a big distinction there,” Castrataro said.
“I thought Brittany’s question was that we need an LGBT person on the commission. So, George, I agree with your observation and I’m sure you agree with mine as well,” Smith said.