Civil Rights Group Urges Florida Gov. To Rescind State Funds To Right-Wing Business

People For the American Way, on behalf of its Florida members, called upon Gov. Jeb Bush to rescind its decision to provide $500,000 in state funds for a right-wing advocacy group, the American Family Association, to move a part of its business operations to Okaloosa County.

In a letter signed by PFAW President Ralph G. Neas and PFAW Florida Director Lisa Versaci and sent overnight to the governor, the group calls the decision to funnel tax dollars to the AFA -- which has a long tradition of intolerance and bigotry -- "misguided" and urges the administration to renounce its plan.

The text of the letter follows:

The Honorable Jeb Bush

The Capitol

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor Bush,

As representatives of a civil rights organization with thousands of members in Florida, we are concerned and disheartened to learn that state officials have decided to provide the American Family Association, a notoriously right-wing group, with $500,000 in state funds to relocate a part of its business to Okaloosa County. On behalf of our Florida members, we call upon you to reverse this misguided action.

The American Family Association, a Religious Right advocacy group, has a tradition of bigotry and intolerance. In a fundraising letter cited by the group Equality Florida, AFA President Don Wildmon proclaimed: "For the sake of our children and society, we must oppose the spread of homosexual activity! Just as we oppose murder, stealing, and adultery!"

Combined with its vituperative attacks on gays, the AFA calls for boycotting private companies, such as Disney and American Airlines, that have non-discrimination policies against gays and/or extend benefits to gay employees and their families.

This is not the type of business that state officials should make extraordinary efforts to attract. Florida is a vibrant, growing state and should not feel compelled to funnel tax dollars to help an AFA business relocate to Okaloosa County. Diverting precious tax dollars to such an organization is a slap in the face to the millions of tolerant and caring people who live and work in Florida. People For the American Way urges you to rescind this huge transfer of state funds to a group that advocates discrimination and sows division.

Sincerely,

Ralph G. Neas, President Lisa Versaci, Florida Director

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