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Update on anti-gay message heard on Fort Lauderdale airport PA system

I received an email from Anthony Niedwiecki, a law professor in Florida, who wrote me a couple of days ago to tell me about an incident he and his partner Waymon Hudson experienced at the Fort Lauderdale airport where some idiot got on the PA system and started gay bashing, quoting Leviticus 20:13.

At approximately 12:45 am, my partner and I were in the baggage claim area in terminal 3.  We had just arrived from Chicago and were waiting for our bags when an announcement came over the intercom.  It basically said that “a man who lies with another man as he would a woman is subject to death.”  We couldn’t believe what we heard, and then it came over the intercom again a few minutes later.  We were shaken by the announcement because it specifically said “subject to death”.

After the exposure here at the Blend and over at DKos, the major media picked up the story and a full investigation is under way; while the public can use the PA, it requires a pass code to broadcast over the speaker system, so authorities are going to find out who did it. Anthony:

As a result, the mayor called and apologized to us and held a press conference today.  He apologized to us at the press conference and talked about the extensive investigation the police are doing.  He also said that they would fire any employee who did this.  The press release from the mayor’s office also said that others (including airport personnel) heard the message.  Here are a couple of articles about what happened today.

Some of the additional coverage of the story is after the flip.From the Sun-Sentinel:

Broward County Mayor Josephus Eggelletion Jr. called the reading of the passage “inappropriate.”

“We welcome all people of all races ? all ethnicities, all religions and sexual orientations,” he said. “We have a very large gay population, and we are sorry this occurred.”

The microphone to the public address system is accessible to the public, but a code must be entered to select the loud speakers on which it is heard. Eggelletion said 400 Broward County employees work at the airport, along with 11,000 people who work for private airlines and other airport-related businesses.

“We think we can isolate this and find out who did this,” Eggelletion said.

And the Miami Herald:

”This is such a unique and unusual situation,” said Greg Meyer, spokesman for the airport, “It’s very disturbing to us.”

The investigation didn’t really get going, the couple said, until they had repeatedly filed reports with the security manager at the airport and called BSO and United Airlines several times.

Niedwiecki also posted their complaint on blogs and  The postings initiated lively exchanges about homophobia and free speech.

Niedwiecki also exchanged e-mails with Ken Keechl, who is the Broward County Commission’s only openly gay member.

”This is absolutely unacceptable,” Keechl said, “And if it is determined that a Broward county employee is responsible for this, that person should be fired immediately.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding