From our media partner Sun Sentinel: Two of Broward’s top Republicans are being attacked by a faction of their own party for participating in this past weekend’s gay pride parade in Wilton Manors.
The critics are going after County Commissioner Chip LaMarca, the only Republican on the nine-member commission, as he campaigns for re-election in November.
They’re also targeting Heather Brinkworth, who was appointed to the School Board by Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Brinkworth is a Republican; School Board seats are officially nonpartisan. She is running to retain her seat in the Aug. 26 election.
Their participation in the annual gay pride parade was reported in a picture gallery posted Monday on the Sun Sentinel’s Broward Politics blog. LaMarca and Brinkworth were among a contingent of federal, state and local officials – almost all Democrats – who marched or rode in the parade.
The Sun Sentinel Broward Politics pictures of LaMarca and Brinkworth – along with a picture of four scantily clad young men – were lifted and put on a flier and email missive.
The picture of the scantily clad men was taken before 3 p.m. – four hours before LaMarca and Brinkworth marched in the parade, which began at 7 p.m.
The headline on the flier: “Is this the Republican Party you signed up for?”
The flier went on to assert that there are $15 billion in health care costs “each year due to male on male sexually transmitted disease!”
“Some people just make poor decisions and need to be educated. Others will do anything to stay in POWER. Is it worth selling your soul to the devil to get maybe 10% of a 1% homosexual voting block?
“Will you stand up for the 2012 Republican Platform values; God, traditional marriage and Families or will you follow the democrats [sic] down the path to self-destruction?”
Next to Brinkworth’s picture, the flier asked, “What kind of people do you want responsible for your Child’s education?”
The provenance of the flier isn't clear. It doesn't have a disclaimer common on political materials indicating who paid for it.
The flier was circulated among some people at Monday night’s monthly meeting of the Broward Republican Party’s committeemen and committeewomen, who make up the group that runs the local party.
Danita Kilcullen, a Republican committeewoman and co-founder of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, sent out an email version, but said she wasn't responsible for printing the flier. She didn't say who was responsible.
Kilcullen's email began: “Whores chasing whores, if you will.”
Also Monday night, Republican Chairman Tom Truex introduced all the Republican elected officials and candidates late in the meeting. He said LaMarca had been there but had to leave early.
Someone yelled out from the area where the committeemen and committeewomen were sitting that “He had to go to a gay event.”
Brinkworth could not be reached for comment early Tuesday before the School Board convened its meeting.
LaMarca, reached before the County Commission convened, said he has participated in the parade in the past, before he was elected and since.
“I represent a significant portion of Broward County’s gay community, and they like everybody else has issues that come before the County Commission,” LaMarca said.
LaMarca used to represent Wilton Manors, but redistricting removed the city from his district, meaning “I didn’t go there for votes.”
He said he attended to “show everybody – as attending events in the black community and attending events in less Republican areas – I’m a commissioner that’s always there. I’d much rather be educated on issues by talking to people than getting talking points from someone or some organization telling me how to think.”
LaMarca, a former chairman of the Broward Republican Party, rejected suggestions that he doesn’t represent his party. “I don’t have any concerns about the kind of Republican I am. I’ve been a Republican all my life,” he said. “I don’t have any concerns about my principles.”
Kilcullen said she emailed the photos and comments because “I don’t think Republicans should be marching in gay parades because our platform does not suggest that we do that. It suggests quite the opposite.”
Asked if that means she thinks people shouldn’t vote for LaMarca or Brinkworth, Kilcullen said, “Well, everybody to their own.”
Ken Keechl, the openly gay Democrat who was defeated by LaMarca in 2010 and is seeking his party’s nomination to challenge him in November, also rode in Saturday’s parade.
“Chip and Heather should not be attacked for participating in the Stonewall parade,” Keechl said. “That’s just homophobia at its worst, and the right wingers of the Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves. It’s disgusting.”
He decried the use of the scantily clad men to further an agenda, as opposes to using images of people who attended supporting churches or other civic activities.
Gay-related issues have proven contentious for the Broward Republican Party in the last year.
When Truex called Republican Jack Gillies, co-founder of Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, to the front of the room to introduce the night’s keynote speaker, Gillies first said he wanted to commend the conservative wing of the party.
“Thank you for standing against ungodly same-sex marriage,” said Gillies, who went on to quote from the Old Testament book of Leviticus calling homosexuality “an abomination.”
The party fought over the issue during several gatherings last year after the then-secretary, Cara Pavalock, publicly supported Republicans and conservatives who supported same-sex marriage. After six months of criticism from a faction of the party that didn’t like what she said or how she said it, she resigned and moved to Connecticut.
Last week, the lone Republican on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, Bruce Roberts was in the majority on a 3-2 vote on a resolution supporting same-sex marriage.
He spoke two nights later at a meeting of the Lauderdale Beach Republican Club.
Bob Wolfe, founder and co-chairman of the club, said a handful of people, including Kilcullen, showed up and objected to Roberts’s vote on same-sex marriage. Most members of the club, Wolfe said, weren’t unhappy with Roberts’s vote on the issue.