CAPE CORAL, Fla. – A discussion grew testy between Mayor Marni Sawicki and council member Jim Burch, who said addressing the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is not a priority Monday.
LGBT individuals fare far better in Florida’s other cities that have non-discrimination laws and whose public officials support their equal rights, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign. The report found that the quality of life for Cape Coral’s LGBT community ranked last among the state’s largest cities.
But the concerns raised in the report do not deserve the city council’s attention, according to Councilman Burch’s remarks on Monday. He and Sawicki had the following exchange:
Burch: On the list of priorities, that’s way on the other side. I mean you’ve got many many things to do and —
Sawicki: So somebody’s, I guess, human rights are on the low priority? I’m just curious.
Burch: Lesbian, gay, and transsexuals are not necessarily the thing we need to concentrate on.
Dan Mitton, an openly gay Cape Coral resident of 13 years, said he has never been a victim of discrimination, but that there is still work to do.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction and I think that a younger population is moving into Cape Coral and we’re becoming less conservative as a city,” he said.
Councilwoman Jessica Cosden said she has drafted two ordinances aimed at protecting the city’s LGBT community.