TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Equality Florida applauds the resignation of Senator Frank Artiles following intense public pressure from advocacy organizations, elected leaders, and his constituents. Equality Florida’s Public Policy Director, Hannah Willard, provided the following statement:
'Frank Artiles’s resignation after intense pressure from across the political spectrum sends an important message that we will not treat bigotry and hateful slurs as acceptable from our elected leaders. Equality Florida is proud to have stood in solidarity with the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, the NAACP, and the thousands of people who signed petitions calling for Artiles to resign or be removed.
We commend Frank Artiles for a resignation letter that took direct responsibility for his actions and acknowledged the need for him to step down.
"It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness."
It is important, however, to point out this is not an isolated incident. Frank Artiles has a long history of repugnant behavior including the recent reports of him using racist, sexist and homophobic slurs against his legislative colleagues and lobbyists in Tallahassee. In 2014, as a State Representative, Artiles caught on tape using the slur “hajis” for Middle Easterners or Muslims. He even released a campaign ad that described Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization.
In 2015, he introduced one of the most abhorrent and discriminatory pieces of legislation in Florida’s history, targeting the LGBTQ community. A similar “bathroom bill” plunged North Carolina into economic chaos last year, sending the national message that seeking to harm transgender people will not be tolerated.
Artiles had vowed to remain in office but mounting pressure from a coalition of groups and a grassroots outcry have prevailed. We were especially heartened to hear members of his own party publicly condemn his actions and call on him to step down.
The power of the people should never be underestimated. Artiles’s resignation should serve as a warning to all elected officials: Floridians will not stand for bigotry and hatred, and we are prepared to hold all of our elected leaders accountable to a higher standard of fairness, equality, and basic human dignity for all people.'