Virginia Beach is rapidly gaining national and international media attention due to the horrific anti-gay and anti-transgender remarks made by a member of the City's Human Rights Commission. For a city that depends so heavily on tourism dollars, being perceived as intolerant and unwelcoming can be a kiss of death and Commissioner LaKendrick El toxic Facebook Posts are rapidly undue years of city efforts to enhance the city's image nationally and internationally. In an unusual display of unity, area LGBT organizations and activists have unanimously called for El's removal - something that seemingly is supported by a majority of the members of Virginia Beach City Council. The Virginian Pilot is reporting on the controversy that is generating animosity among elements of the city's population. So far, there is no word on whether El will resign or be removed by City Council. Here are article highlights (note El's comments about "special rights" - something that it is actually Christofascists and other right wing religious extremists are seeking for themselves):
Leaders in Hampton Roads’ LGBT community called for the removal of a member of Virginia Beach’s Human Rights Commission on Thursday following comments he posted on Facebook saying homosexuality was an “abomination” and that transgender people suffer from a mental illness.It’s unclear what sparked the series of Facebook posts by LaKendrick El on Monday. El did not respond to a message from The Virginian-Pilot seeking comment.
El’s posts are not publicly viewable, but screen shots provided to the Pilot by the advocacy group Hampton Roads Pride show that he shared a 2017 news story about a transgender woman in Wyoming who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a bathroom in a private home [El may have quoted a false Fox News story about this occurence].
“This is why we need to stop giving men in dresses passes,” El wrote. “I have daughters and I won’t accept them sharing a restroom with a grown man suffering from this mental illness.”
In a separate post less than 15 minutes later, El suggested that gay and lesbian people are getting special treatment, although he did not specify in what way.
“Stop promoting sexuality to our children. Two men or women together is an abomination according to my faith,” he wrote. “Stop promoting your sexual behavior expecting special treatment based on who you’re having sex with.”
LGBT advocates expressed dismay that a member of a human rights commission would express such views. Stacie Walls-Beegle, executive director of the LGBT Life Center in Norfolk, said El’s comments are especially harmful to those struggling to understand their sexuality.
El’s comments also drew the ire of his fellow commission members, the city’s mayor and a majority of city council members.
“The Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission was founded to institute, conduct and engage in educational and informational programs for the promotion of mutual understanding and respect among citizens and the fulfillment of human rights," Mayor Bobby Dyer said at a news conference.
“We believe the public comments of Brother LaKendrick Coburn El are contrary to these basic goals that are the core of the Human Rights Commission, and it is no longer appropriate for him to serve in this capacity."
The commission’s chairwoman, Sylvia Nery-Strickland, said El’s comments do not reflect her group’s position.
I would also note that time and time again when political figures and right wing religious figures are stridently anti-gay, it's usually only a matter of time before they are exposed for being sexual predators or engaging in the type of sex they are outwardly condemning. Think former congressman Ed Shrock, Tim Haggard, and an endless parade of Republican office holders this blog has noted over the years.“I am deeply saddened at the anguish and pain affecting LGBT community,” she said. “I understand how hurtful these comments are. … These comments stand in start contrast to the public position of the Human Rights Commission."