Rep. Allen West (R-FL) responded to being uninvited from a local Florida closed-door business group meeting after an LGBT group threatened to boycott if West attended, by sending the leader of the business group a letter that calls the LGBT group, “intolerable individuals.”
“Clearly, we have learned who really are the intolerable individuals in South Florida,” Rep. West writes in his letter (below), printed on his official Congress of the United States stationery.
Rep. West had been invited to speak on August 8 to the Wilton Manors Business Association (WMBA). Wilton Manors, a small, two mile square city in Broward County, is a very LGBT-friendly part of the Florida, and has a very active LGBT community. The head of the WMBA invited Rep. West, some say without canvassing the association members.
“John Zieba, an owner of Rosie’s Bar and Grill, which caters largely to a gay and lesbian clientele, said he wanted the event cancelled,” reports the Sun-Sentinel.
His business was one of the newest members of the Wilton Manors Business Association – and as such was listed prominently on the business group’s website. After the West invitation made news last week, he got about 15 emailed complaints from angry people, some of whom said they wouldn’t patronize his establishment.
He emailed Celeste Ellich, president of the association, said that if the group “was going to continue to welcome this speaker or any other speaker with those messages of inequality and injustice we would be resigning from the association.”
He said plenty of other speakers could talk to association members about business issues who “don’t vehemently oppose the basic values of a lot of people in our community.”
Zieba said he respects “anyone’s right to be able to come into speak. I respect anyone’s right to come and rally against it.” He also said the proposed boycott of business association members was ill conceived.
Vanessa Koutalidis, a Wilton Manors chiropractor and secretary of the business association board, said she didn’t have any threats of patients boycotting.
But she strongly supported cancellation of the West appearance.
She said having West, who doesn’t support social issues important to many in the gay community, speak it is an affront to gays and lesbians in Wilton Manors.
“It’s a sensitivity issue to many people in our community who feel denigrated,” she said. “It’s not just because it might hurt the businesses. It’s insensitive, it’s insulting to our community which has been affected by his comments and views.”
As The New Civil Rights Movement has reported, the boycott threat came from Michael Rajner, legislative director of the Florida Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Caucus, who last week told The New Civil Rights Movement, “Several businesses have already dropped out of the Wilton Manors Business Association and several others have sent a strong message to the association’s president objecting to West’s appearance.”
Rep. Allen West has been a highly-controversial figure in Florida and nationwide. West is best known for falsely claiming, “I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background,” but the freshman Republican Congressman has also riled many for attending The Awakening 2011, a religious and social conservatives convention, that featured several members of a certified anti-gay hate group.
Also, in April, Rep. West, who had accused President Obama of acting with “third world dictator-like arrogance,” made a statement that earned him the ire of a great many groups. He began to talk about America through the lens of Ancient Sparta, the much-heralded Greek city-state that inspired the bloody movie, “300.”
“We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to fight for you. To let these other women know on the other side — these planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient.”
Rep. West falsely stated at an April town hall, “China is in control of the Panama Canal,” and warned of a “threat” coming from south of our border. West added, “I gotta tell you something: if you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye,” at the same Florida town hall.
“And if ballots don’t work, bullets will,” is the statement made in 2010 by Joyce Kaufman, a controversial Florida radio host who had advocated for the hanging of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. West hired Kaufman to be his chief of staff, but she was essentially forced to resign after public outrage became too great. West reportedly blamed the Left of racism and misogyny as reasons for Kaufman’s resignation.
West, 50, despite being on the House Committee on Armed Services, last year said of gay men and lesbians in the military, “unfortunately, they are serving.” He delivered the keynote speech at this year’s CPAC.
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