The controversy surrounding the announcement and cancellation of an appearance by Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, at the Wilton Manors Business Association’s Aug. 8 meeting will not go away.
In response to West’s announced appearance, Michael Rajner, legislative director of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, demanded that Celeste Ellich, president of the Business Association, disinvite West.
A South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial responded with: “Intolerance is intolerable, and that’s why pressure on a Wilton Manors business group to disinvite a member of Congress is misguided.”
The editorial added that if the GLBT Democratic Caucus “and its members choose to take their business elsewhere, as they have threatened, that’s their right,” and that the paper objects “to Rajner’s demand that the business group withdraws its invitation to Rep. West. One form of intolerance simply does not justify another.”
In an op-ed published today in the Sun Sentinel, the author writes:
If the infamous Klu Klux Klan leader, David Duke, were coming to Wilton Manors to speak and the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League were calling for the invitation to be rescinded, would the Sun Sentinel call them intolerant?
That is the crux of the problem. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board erred in equating Allen West’s well documented, inflammatory, bigoted, hate speech with the GLBT Democratic Caucus’s call to disinvite him. In your editorial, you attempted to compare the incomparable.
A Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus press release issued Tuesday applauds the Wilton Manors Business Association for canceling West’s appearance. The release adds that “many qualified and respectful speakers exist on both sides of the aisle”
According to the release, “the Caucus supports the efforts of our local chapter, the Dolphin Democrats, to raise awareness of Rep. West’s extremism on issues, offensive language and counter-productive behavior, all of which are an affront to the GLBT community and to fair-minded Floridians who believe in equality for all Americans.”
Opponents of West’s appearance at the Business Association meeting mentioned his recent comments about lifting the ban on gays and lesbians in the military. When asked about that, West said this weekend, “When you take the military and you tell it they must conform to the individual’s behavior, then it’s just a matter of time until you break down the military.”
At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, West said that Americans should never allow multiculturalism to make a definitive American culture subservient.
West also said that “we must hold sacred the privilege of the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and woman, to promote the promulgation of our society because we cannot allow the destruction of the American family.”
West also called for reclaiming our Judeo-Christian tradition. West quoted president John Adams to say, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” at the conservative conference.
See video of West’s speech at CPAC: