Florida Senator Ileana Garcia apologized for comments she made during a highly charged debate over the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
Garcia, a Miami Republican, angered LGBT activists when she voted for HB 1557, officially titled Parental Rights in Education, saying, “gay is not a permanent thing. LGBT is not a permanent thing.” The bill passed in the Senate on a 22-17 vote and awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.
“My comments in no way were intended to generalize or disregard the experiences of any member of the LGBT+ community. I was trying to explain my very personal life experiences and did not properly articulate my sentiments,” Garcia wrote in a statement released on Twitter Thursday.
Garcia stated she is not in favor of public school instruction of gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.
“I strongly believe it’s a discussion that should be at the discretion of the parent,” Garcia wrote.
In her first term in the Senate, Garcia chaired the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee. She was elected by just 34 votes in a campaign marred by the discovery of a ghost candidate — a scheme that led to the arrest of former Sen. Frank Artiles on bribery and election fraud charges.
Under the new redistricting maps, Garcia faces Representative Michael Grieco, a Democrat and former Miami Beach commissioner, in Senate District 36, which covers parts of Coral Gables, Miami and Miami Beach. Since her comments on the Senate floor, Garcia said she has received intense blowback and threats of physical harm.
Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders called Garcia’s statement a “sorry not sorry” gesture.
“Guess who’s seat is still one of EQFL PAC’s top targets in 2022?” Saunders tweeted.