Alabama's first openly gay legislator no longer has a job waiting for her with an Orlando-based gay rights organization after creating a firestorm with a Tuesday evening tweet that speculated on Gov. Kay Ivey's sexuality and urged someone to out her as a lesbian.
Jennifer Foster, the chairwoman of the board for One Orlando Alliance, said the board took an emergency vote of confidence on Patricia Todd, who was recently named the organization's executive director, effective June 1.
Foster said the board voted unanimously to retract its offer to Todd, "and will begin a new search for an Executive Director, effective immediately."
WSFA 12 News reached out to Todd for comment on One Orlando Alliance's decision and she responded "later."
“The Board affirms that Ms. Todd’s recent comments are not aligned with the values of One Orlando Alliance. We strongly believe that coming out is a personal choice and we do not support involuntarily outing,” Foster said.
Todd advocated the public outing following a Tuesday news conference from one of Ivey's GOP primary competitors, Scott Dawson, who claimed Ivey "betrayed Alabama values" by approving funding for Free2Be, an LGBTQ nonprofit that until its recent closing had a mission statement of counseling children bullied because of their sexual orientation.
Todd's tweet said:
" Will someone out her for God's sake....I have heard for years that she is gay and moved her girlfriend out of her house when she became Gov. I am sick of closeted elected officials. https://t.co/0WP5J734sd".
Gov. Ivey and her campaign immediately reacted to the tweet, calling it a "bald-faced lie" and denying she is gay. Ivey is just weeks away from a primary race in which she's trying to obtain the GOP nomination for a run at a full term in office.
The more than 100 comments that followed Todd's tweet were less than supportive of her idea and she found little support from other gay rights organizations like Equality Alabama. That organization's executive director, Michael Hansen, lamented both the tweet and the response to it saying they were "problematic" on multiple levels.
What I am looking at is a bunch of adults engaged in using our community as a political football," Hansen said. "Kicking us around to score points, and I think people in Alabama are sick and tired of these kinds of politics, old style of politics."
“Weaponizing queerness through the act of outing others is a violation of the sacred rite that we as queer people undergo in our journey of self-discovery," said Christopher Cuevas, a representative of QLatinx, one of One Orlando Alliance's member organizations. "It is a form of psychic and emotional violence; a violence that robs one of their ability to self-actualize and manifest their truth."
"Our Executive Director needs to lead our mission-driven efforts and exemplify our values - in all aspects of their everyday life," Foster added. "The Alliance’s collective commitment, to create a safer, more inclusive community for all, includes removing the threat of shame from being a member of our community, and accepting all who join us."
Foster went on to say the organization "believes in acceptance across a broad cross-section of communities joined together by love and support for all individuals. This love extends to those who make deeply personal choice about the public identification of their sexuality. Ms. Todd's recent actions fell short of this threshold, which is core to our mission and what prompted the board’s swift action."
The tweet put One Orlando Alliance, which was created in the days following the Pulse nightclub massacre that claimed 49 lives, in a difficult position.
“This has been a challenging situation, Foster said. "While Ms. Todd has a well-established record of outstanding service to the community, her lapse in judgment has led us to end our relationship with her. We admire her many decades of exemplary service and believe that, with the right opportunity, Ms. Todd will continue to use her many talents to make significant progress advocating for justice and equality.”
Tuesday's tweet is not the first time Todd has threatened to expose elected officials.
In 2015, while a sitting state legislator, Todd said she would begin outing colleagues whom she said were either gay or having extramarital affairs if they kept opposing same-sex marriage on the grounds of "family values."
The Facebook post read:
"Then I'm going to try and hold you in check. Because some of your folks don't exactly have the greatest family values either," Todd said. "So be careful when you start throwing that brick. And I realize that it's not a popular opinion and I'll get a lot of backlash, but at this point in time, I'm willing to risk everything politically to make this happen."
Todd has since locked her Twitter account and her Facebook page is unavailable.
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