Update on Largo Discrimination Case
Sat., March 24, 2007
The discriminatory firing of Steve Stanton, the 14-year city manager of Largo, Florida, was finalized late last night after a record six-hour hearing. Equality Florida has been front and center in supporting Stanton throughout this tedious process. We wanted to provide our members with a special update on what happened last night -- and over the past few weeks -- with regards to this situation.
In the days leading up to this final hearing, Equality Florida reached out to you -- our supporters – and asked you to call, write and e-mail the Largo City Commissioners and to attend the final hearing. More than 3,000 of you expressed your support for Stanton via e-mail, while hundreds more of you placed personal phone calls to ask the five commissioners who initially voted to fire him to reconsider their votes.
Over 200 Equality Florida supporters were present at last night’s hearing, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles to stand up for Steve Stanton. Equality Florida staff members – leading organizing efforts on site a full nine hours prior to the vote -- greeted our supporters with pink T-shirts printed with a simple message, “Don’t Discriminate.” When Stanton arrived, he proudly walked through a virtual sea of pink, cheered on by Equality Florida members. He has asked us to let you know how much your support means to him.
The vast majority of public comments supported Stanton and encouraged the commissioners to let him keep his job. There were also those who opposed equality -- organized by two fundamentalist mega-churches -- carrying signs, some with derogatory slurs like “Fire The Faggot.” One speaker commented, “For Largo, family values don’t mean diversity.”
At the end of the very long night, the commissioners used contorted and disingenuous logic to explain that their vote to fire Stanton had nothing to do with his transgender status, but rather was the result of a sudden revelation of his poor job performance. This rationale from the same body that just months ago gave Stanton a “superior” annual review and an $11,000 raise.
This vote was clearly fueled by discrimination. Equality Florida has been there, and will continue to be there when members of our community are under attack. We’re already work with our allies to pass specific protections for LGBT citizens at the local, state and national level. Visit www.EQFL.org to stay informed on our work.
NADINE SMITH ARRESTED
You may have seen news reports about Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, being arrested at the first hearing. She was charged with a felony for handing a pink “Don’t Discriminate” flyer, just like the one you’re holding now, to a supporter who asked for it. After being taken to the floor by four Largo Police officers, Nadine needed to seek medical attention for injuries to her arm and shoulder.
In spite of her mistreatment at the previous hearing, Nadine Smith and Equality Florida were again there last night to defend Steve Stanton and demand equality and justice Florida’s LGBT community. Equality Florida remains firmly committed to standing up and speaking out for fairness for Stanton and all Floridians suffering discrimination, harassment and/or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Please know that your support of Equality Florida has allowed us to continue to stand up for fairness and oppose discrimination for the past decade. It’s clear that we are making a difference throughout Florida. – please renew your membership today!
(We have used Stanton’s male name and pronouns with the understanding that this is his preference at this time.)