EQFL Member Victim of Homophobic/Anti-Semitic Vandals

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Posted on June 17, 2009 - 1:32pm by Anonymous.

Ruth Dorfman is a longtime member of Equality. She's been a champion for LGBT families in Naples and has worked for years on the coalition working to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Collier County. This is a chilling reminder that the rise in hate speech across the country in recent weeks and months has very real and very dangerous consequences.



By Naples Daily News staff report
Originally published 11:46 a.m., Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Updated 5:12 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When East Naples resident Ruth Dorfman went outside today to pick up her morning paper, what she saw shook her to the core.

“I saw these swastikas on my garage and I screamed... I remember that,” said Dorfman, 64, who is both Jewish and a vocal member of the Naples chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

In addition to the two swastikas painted on her garage, copies of an article she had written about the recent Interfaith Convocation Celebration hosted by PFLAG were pasted on the door.

Dorfman submitted a story that was published in the Daily News about the second annual PFLAG Interfaith Convocation recently held at Unity of Naples Church.

She remembered listening to herself scream when seeing the swastikas and wondering who was screaming.

“They’re probably what upset me the most,” said Dorfman of the symbols associated with Nazi’s and the suffering of millions of Jews during World War II. “That kind of vision of a Holocaust attack... that frightened me.”

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, who welcomed the congregation at the most recent PFLAG gathering, was disappointed to hear today’s news.

“It’s very sad to me to have someone that narrow minded to do something like that. I’d be sorry no matter who it was.” Barnett said.

“It’s sad and disheartening to see things like that because this community as a whole has come a long long way over the years. Something like that is sickening and annoying, but I don’t think that it bespeaks of the whole community.”

Collier County deputies are investigating the incident.

For more information visit www.naplesnews.com.



Stratton Pollitzer (not verified) says:

June 22, 2009 - 10:14am

Beautiful response to Collier Hate Crime. Let's hope this awful incident pushes the Collier Commission to finally create a Human Rights Ordinance (the last time they voted it down 5-0 saying discrimination wasn't a problem in Collier County).

'I'm not alone': Crowd shows support at vigil to protest swastikas vandalism

11:14 a.m., Sunday, June 21, 2009

NAPLES — East Naples resident Ruth Dorfman was alone when she went outside last Tuesday to pick up her morning newspaper and saw two swastikas painted on her garage, along with copies of an article she’d written for the Naples Daily News regarding a gay-friendly interfaith convocation she’d recently attended.

Dorfman wasn’t alone at Naples Pier on Sunday night.

More than 100 people showed up for a candlelight vigil to urge tolerance and to show their support for Dorfman, who is Jewish and a leading voice for the Naples chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

With the sound of waves gently lapping against the shoreline providing the soundtrack, various demonstrators took turns reading prayers and literature excerpts, including passages by Walt Whitman.

In the middle of the huddled mass just north of the pier sat a misty-eyed Dorfman in a wheelchair, an oxygen tube strapped into her nostrils. Asked what the show of support meant to her, Dorfman’s voice cracked with emotion.

“It means that I’m not alone,” the 64-year-old Dorfman said. “I just feel so loved. It reminds me of a Perry Como song that goes something like, ‘When you close your eyes and go to sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.’”

Dorfman said the scene outside of her house last Tuesday morning was surreal.

“I was so frightened, so shaken,” she said. “I didn’t want to come out here tonight. I didn’t want to leave the safety of my house, but if I hide, then they won.”

Dorfman said she didn’t want that to happen, no matter how strong the temptation.

“I can’t let hate win,” she said. “If I could say something to the people who did it, it would be to ask them why. Why didn’t you come to talk to me about it instead? I didn’t come paint things on your house.”

No one has been arrested for the vandalism at Dorfman’s home.

The Rev. Rick Sosbe, pastor of Celebration Metropolitan Community Church in Naples and a gay man said the vigil was an vital step in teaching about respecting others’ beliefs.

“It’s important so many people came out tonight so others will understand and realize that everybody has the right to believe what they want to believe, whether it’s religion or no religion or whatever,” he said. “It’s a disgrace that people would go to that length (painting swastikas on Dorfman’s garage). It’s ridiculous, it’s absurd.”

Demonstrator John Boettjer of Naples agreed.

“I was horrified to hear what happened, and to think that it happened here in Naples, where we’re supposed to be an enlightened and educated city,” said Boettjer, who serves on the board of PFLAG’s Naples chapter. “It’s just shocking and atrocious.”

Cynthia Seymour of Naples echoed those sentiments.

“There are a lot of different ways to handle differences of opinions, but painting swastikas on people’s garages is not one of them,” Seymour said. “I was saddened to hear it happened. You would think people would have a greater degree of respect for one another.”

On hand with Seymour, Dianne Rhodes of Naples said she, too, was upset to hear what happened to Dorfman.

“It really frightened me,” she said. “Hopefully by showing our support in a peaceful way, these kind of incidents will come to a stop.”

Margie Wankoff of Bonita Springs was also on hand Sunday night.

“I’m very saddened something like this could happen here,” said Wankoff. “I’m also saddened there are no ‘official’ people here — no mayor, no police…thank goodness everyone is well-behaved tonight.”

E-mail John Osborne at [email protected].

Anonymous (not verified) says:

June 17, 2009 - 9:58pm

I hope you won't leave. We need good caring people to stay and make a difference. Our education efforts make a difference and public opinion continues to move in our direction. We need people to speak up and be leaders in their communities. Thanks for telling your story here.

RA-RN (not verified) says:

June 17, 2009 - 8:55pm

Repulsive and appalled that we are still fighting these issues. It saddens me that someone would do this, it saddens me that we cannot all live as one peacefully and in harmony realizing that we all have something special to bring to this universe and society, gay, straight, christian, jewish, muslim, we all have a faith we all have someone we love, cherish and adore. This action shows me that there is still so much hate in the world and I am uncertain if FL is the place I want to raise my child in now with my partner. If we are condemned by society, she will be also, if we do not have equal rights, as a loving committed couple what will her life become? The closed mindedness of these actions screams for FL to wake up and pay attention to all of us white, black, jews, christian, gays, bisexuals, transgender, lesbians, who do love one another have homes, jobs, families and security in this state. But we must stand together for our children and what we believe in. As a jewish lesbian mother, I am appalled of these actions, my newly adopted baby girl will never be safe in the state of FL if we continue to allow this. My partner and I will have no option but to move out of FL to a state that recognizes our family unit and committment. I am sorry FLORIDA will lose due to their blind eye to the needs of this tax paying community and its citizens. MTF

Stratton Pollitzer (not verified) says:

June 17, 2009 - 2:50pm

Terrific Response from Naples Daily News

Editorial: Response to essays ... we are too intelligent to allow hate speech

7:04 p.m., Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For the past several years, Ruth Dorfman of East Naples has been a regular contributor to our opinion pages.

Her message is consistently simple and direct: Let us love and respect one another rather than discriminate against homosexuals.

She encourages dialogue rather than meanness, tolerance over hate.

The way to take issue with that message is to respond in kind, with words — not swastikas and news clippings pasted to her home.

That is what she awoke to find on Tuesday. The clippings were of two of her latest guest essays, including one fresh from Sunday about an annual ecumenical celebration sponsored by the Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). The clippings were accompanied by hateful words for gays — and Jews and Democrats.

Our community is smarter than that.

Our community is bigger than that.

Our community is stronger than that.

That damage done to Dorfman’s garage door does not reflect our community’s standards.

We believe what happened to Dorfman, in retaliation for her peace-preaching words, is wrong.


A coalition of eight local clergy issued a statement. The sentiments did not take long to compile, yet say it all: “That she would be targeted by hate-filled individuals saddens us all and diminishes our shared lives.

“We call upon people of good will to join us in rejecting hate.

“We call upon people of whatever faith tradition or no faith tradition to speak against intolerance and to reject bigotry in whatever form.

“We say it clearly: in the faith traditions we represent, all people are God’s children.’’

Well put.

The Collier County Sheriff’s Office ought to be confident of our community’s fullest support to track and catch the person or persons responsible.

He, she or they do not speak for the rest of us and went way over the edge.

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