BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Wilton Manors Business Association President Celeste Ellich recently announced that U.S. Rep. Allen West would be speaking to the group at its Aug. 8 meeting.
"We expect a fairly large turnout from the community for his first time speaking in our city," Ellich wrote. "With redistricting coming up, it is anyone's guess as to who will cover Wilton Manors in the future. Hope to see you there!"
A few days ago, West told a Tampa audience that he was unhappy that gays were about to serve openly in the military. From The Tampa Tribune:
"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," he said.
He rejected the comparison to racial integration of the military.
"Let me explain something to you," said West, who is black. "I can't change my color. People can change their behavior, but I can't change my color."
Now, gay activists are unhappy that West will be speaking in very-gay Wilton Manors:
"This morning I was shocked to read your email below announcing that WMBA is hosting anti-gay and fear-mongering Allen West who in his role has publicly worked to advance social injustice," wrote activist Michael Emanuel Rajner in an open letter to Ellich.
"Celeste, I’m demanding that you take a courageous stand of leadership for the rights of GLBT-Americans as President of the Wilton Manors Business Association and disinvite West to your August 8th meeting. If not, GLBT-community leaders and other social justice advocates will:
- Call for your resignation;
- Call on businesses to disavow the Wilton Manors Business Association for placing profits ahead of human rights; and
- Call on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-community to boycott any and all businesses who are a member of the Wilton Manors Business Association, including GLBT-owned businesses willing to put profits ahead of human rights."
Ellich tells The Florida Independent that she's not planning to uninvite West:
Said former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, who is running as a Democrat against West:
"Allen West's recent comments regarding the change to DADT in the military is disturbing. The opportunity to service one's county in the military is a right that should be afforded to every citizen without fear of retribution because of their sexual identity," Frankel said in an email to The Miami Herald. "Mr. West's suggestion that Gay and Lesbians can or want to change their identity in order to conform to his narrow minded standards is sad. Like every citizen, gays and lesbians who want to serve their country in the military should be honored for their service."
Ron Mills, a longtime gay Democratic Party activist, says West's appearance is "very disrespectful to many business people in Wilton Manors."
"Allen West has repeatedly demonstrated that’s he’s anti-gay, anti Muslim and anti-woman. He’s very volatile. There’s nothing positive to say about Allen West," said Mills, who is not demanding that Ellich cancel the congressman's appearance.
“Am I going to tell gays to come and tell him what we think of him? Absolutely," Mills told The Herald. "But he has every right to come.”
Here's West's written response Wednesday to Ellich:Download