News - May 1996

ACT UP demands anti-gay Fla. state employee be fired

ACT UP/Fort Lauderdale demands that Governor Lawton Chiles (Dem - FL) fire immediately Leanne O'Connell, a Florida Dept. of Transportation (DOT) employee who, on official stationery, wrote the following letter to the Orlando pledge office of The Florida AIDS Ride, a mega-fundraiser of 1,000 bicyclists who May 17-19 will peddle 275 miles from Orlando to Miami Beach raising money for desperately needed HIV/AIDS services.

O'Connell received a letter from a Florida AIDS Ride participant soliciting pledges, and on April 15th she responded thusly on Florida Dept. of Transportation letterhead:

"I will get straight to the point with this letter. I do not appreciate mail such as you have sent (see attached) coming to me at the office. In my capacity with the Florida Department of Transportation, I have no professional interest in your Aids Ride. In my capacity outside the office, I again have no interest in your Aids Ride. It is my personal belief that Aids as a disease was created as a punishment to the gay and lesbian communities across the world. Unfortunately, due to their lifestyles, many innocent people have also had to suffer. For these people, I am truly sorry and hope that one day we can cure this disease. As far as the gay and lesbians of this world...let them suffer their consequences! I ask that you take me off your mailing list immediately! Signed -- Leanne O'Connell, Youth Traffic Safety Program Coordinator, State Safety Office"

ACT UP/Fort Lauderdale says nothing short of her immediate dismissal is satisfactory! "After nearly 20-years into the world's worst health epidemic of the twentieth century, such rabid bigotry and mind-boggling ignorance is clearly a hate crime against all humanity," said Barry Teeters, co-founder of Ft. Lauderdale's ACT UP chapter. "...I would strongly urge you to take appropriate action immediately," wrote Fla. Rep. Tracy Stafford to Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ben Watts.

General information: Jeff Walsh
Design and HTML: Jase Pittman-Wells
©1996 Oasis. All Rights Reserved.