Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has offered an apology for comments she made that were harshly criticized as being homophobic. Her comments were in response to questions about whether she had had an affair with a woman.
"I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone I may have offended with my recent comment,” Carroll said, in an apology letter to Equality Florida, a gay and lesbian advocacy group.
“It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention. As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people."
The apology comes nearly two weeks after Carroll, a Republican, told a reporter that she couldn’t have engaged in a lesbian act because she doesn’t look like one.
The controversy began with revelations in court documents from a former employee who was arrested and charged last year with leaking recordings of conversations within Carroll's office to a reporter. The former employee claims that she was fired from Carroll’s staff after walking in on Carroll in a "compromising position" with her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos.
When asked about the revelation, Carroll said, "Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that."
"As a Black lesbian from Florida, I personally felt the sting of Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's words,'' said Equality Florida Director Nadine Smith. "Instead of simply denying the claims, she stereotyped Black lesbians. With that one quick statement, Lt. Gov. Carroll appealed to racial and homophobic stereotypes that do real harm."
Carroll, who was born in Trinidad, is the first African-American and the first woman elected to the position of lieutenant governor. She is also the first African-American person elected to statewide office in Florida. Previously, she was a member of the Florida House of Representatives, from 2003 until 2010.
She has gained increasingly widespread attention nationally because of her role as a surrogate in the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
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(Photo: Shealah Craighead)
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