Change.org has a petition up in support of a gay club that’s gotten some homophobic response from city government over noise complaints.
The Cottage, 522 Lucerene Avenue, Lake Worth, FL has been under attack by a small group of local residents who are using the city’s noise ordinance to harass The Cottage. Noise complaints have been made by four residents on almost a daily basis for the past three years. The noise complaints began shortly after The Cottage began its Sunday Tea Dances and branded itself as the only gay-friendly, downtown restaurant in Lake Worth. Many times when the police have responded to a complaint, The Cottage has not even had any live music playing. The police in general are sympathetic and understand that The Cottage is being unfairly targeted but must continue to respond to the calls.
After a year of harassment, The Cottage reached out to the city for assistance. Unfortunately, the City chose to enable and feed the underlying homophobic current, instead of helping a viable and community oriented business as well as honoring its own civil rights ordinance which provides protection for sexual orientation and gender expression.
In May of 2009, Loretta Lutfy, proprietor of The Cottage, along with family friend and local gay rights advocate, Mike Zewe, met with City Manager Susan Stanton to seek assistance to stop the harassment. Instead of receiving support from Ms. Stanton, they were dismissed from her office with homophobic remarks.
Ms. Lutfy says, “She (Stanton) first asked if I would consider stopping the Tea Dance for awhile. I responded that I would close my entire business first. She dismissed Mike and me from the office ending the conversation by saying that “men in dresses, and men dancing with men is offensive. If you continue, you will just have to suffer the consequences.'”
For the next year, The Cottage, knowing that they had no support from the City, felt the only choice was to bear the harassment and hope it would stop. Unfortunately, it has not and Susan Stanton has joined the four complaining residents in their crusade to chip away at the business until it has no choice but to close. Stanton has added to the attack by sending code enforcement daily to The Cottage to look for violations. She went as far to change the hours of the code enforcement office to send employees at all hours of the day and threatened criminal prosecution.
What isn’t mentioned is that Stanton herself is trans; she quite famously & publicly transitioned a few years back, so I’m certainly not outing her.
First, I’d love to hear some verification of these claims from someone in that neck of the woods: I know you’re out there, so either post a comment or send me an email.