State lawmaker under fire for using anti-gay slur

WPBF: State Rep Al Jacquet made the comment about political opponent Omari Hardy

LAKE WORTH, Fla.A local state lawmaker is under fire after using a homophobic slur directed at a political opponent.

Representative Al Jacquet made the comment during a video he posted on social media.

The video touches on multiple topics before Jacquet turns to the upcoming primary and his opponent, Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy.

“I hear they got sleepy Hardy!” Jacquet said. “That’s all good. That’s their union boy, their (expletive), union boy.”

Hardy said he heard about the video and then made it a point to watch it.

“I was disappointed,” Hardy said. “I was appalled, and I was offended.”

Hardy is not gay, though he was raised by two moms.

“I was offended for them,” he said. “I was offended for the broader LGBTQ community here in Palm Beach County and across the state.”

Leaders in the local LGBTQ community were also offended.

By coincidence, the LGBTQ Democratic caucus had a scheduled meeting Tuesday night at the Compass LGBQT Community Center in Lake Worth Beach.

Jacquet’s comments were not on the agenda, but they were what people were talking about.

“It’s very hurtful when an elected official uses slurs to refer to the LGBQT community,” said caucus president Kevin Muth, adding he was extremely upset by the comments. “Words matter.”

Compass Executive Director Julie Seaver added she was appalled by the comments.

“It doesn’t matter what the slur is: racial, misogynistic, homophobic,” Seaver said. “He’s not representing all of his constituents.”

Jacquet has not made a public comment since the video was posted, but he did issue a statement.

“In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have said. I apologize for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.”

Critics have pointed out that the apology does not mention Hardy nor does it mention the LGBTQ community.

“I’m not looking for an apology to me,” Hardy said. “He needs to apologize to the LGBTQ community.”

“We’re not going to take this anymore,” Seaver said. “We’re tired of giving people passes for a statement made on the fly.”

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has called on the Florida House of Representatives to censure Jacquet or remove him from office.