On a day when many Americans were celebrating love, Rep. Al Jacquet in Palm Beach County was ranting on Facebook where he called his opponent “batty boy,” a common anti-gay slur in the Caribbean.
The news was first reported by. According to the news site Jacquet did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment.
Jacquet represents Florida House District 88 that spans most of the length of the county from Delray Beach in the south to Riviera Beach in the north.
“That’s the union boy. The batty boy, union boy,” Jacquet said on the video about his opponent, Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy. The slur is common in the Caribbean islands where Jacquet was born.
Hardy is running against Jacquet in the upcoming Democratic primary in March.
“I want to make it really clear that anti-gay language is reprehensible,” Hardy said. “We shouldn’t tolerate it from our elected officials, just as we should not tolerate it from anyone in our lives.”
Hardy is not gay, but he was raised in a same-sex household with two mothers.
“Anti-gay language is not OK. But there is nothing wrong with being gay. I’m not offended by someone calling me gay even though I’m straight,” he said. “What offends me is this elected official is using hateful language — hateful language that is used to stigmatize people. Trying to weaponize it for his own political benefit.”
Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said he received more than a dozen emails from people once the story was posted online Tuesday.
“Jacquet’s words are reprehensible. What would his response be if someone like me referred to him using the N-word? Al Jacquet must immediately and genuinely apologize to Omari, the LGBTQ community, his colleagues in the Legislature, and his constituents,” Hoch said. “If Jacquet fails to do so, at the very least, he should be censured by The Florida House of Representatives — if not removed from office.”
PBCHRC has endorsed Jacquet in the past.
“While Al Jacquet has never been involved with the local LGBTQ community in a significant way, PBCHRC Voters Alliance repeatedly endorsed him based on his co-sponsorship of pro-LGBTQ legislation,” Hoch said. “I sincerely doubt that will ever happen again.”
Hardy has been a Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner for three years.
“Bigotry of this kind perpetuates a culture of dehumanization and violence against the LGBTQ community. Coming on the heels of his defense of discrimination against LGBTQ students, Representative Jacquet’s homophobic slur is grotesque,” said Brandon Wolf, media relations manager for Equality Florida. “He should apologize immediately and commit to steps that demonstrate his true contrition.”
Update: Jacquet has apologized since this story was published. The Palm Beach Post reported that his staff issued a staetment: “In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have said. I apologize for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.” Hardy rejected the apology telling the Post “This wasn’t a real apology, not that I expected him to do it. This was an attempt to, in my opinion, to cover up the ugliness in himself that he revealed on Friday.″