Twelve days after telling a reporter she couldn't have engaged in homosexual acts because she doesn't look like a lesbian, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll issued an apology to Equality Florida director Nadine Smith.

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone I may have offended with my recent comment. It is wrong and inexcusable to make a comment that hurts people, and that was not my intention,'' Carroll wrote in a faxed letter to Smith.

"As a Christian, my faith guides me to love and respect all people," Carroll continued. "The false charges that have been lodged against me are no excuse for what I have said that may have been hurtful to members of your organization and to other Floridians...I hope you will accept my heartfelt apology."

Court documents recently revealed that former employee Carletha Cole, who was arrested and charged last year with leaking recordings of conversations within Carroll's office to a reporter, claims she was actually fired from Carroll's staff after walking in on the Republican Lieutenant Governor in a "compromising position" in her capitol office with her travel aide, Beatriz Ramos.

When a Tampa 10 reporter asked Carroll about the allegations July 14 at a Mitt Romney campaign office opening in Orange Park, she set off a firestorm of controversy.

"The problem is that when you have these accusations that come out, it's not just one person you're attacking, " Carroll said on-camera. "It's an entire family. My husband doesn't want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am."

The Lieutenant Governor then began giggling as she added: "For twenty-nine years, I'm the one that's married for twenty-nine years. The accuser is the one that's been single for a long time. So usually black women that look like me don't engage in relationships like that."

As outraged Facebook users flooded Carroll's page and Florida Democrats denounced her response as an embarrassment to the state, Smith launched an online petition drive to demand an apology.

Smith, a HuffPost blogger, not only received the letter of apology, but also spoke with Carroll by phone before releasing a statement of her own.

"On behalf of a Equality Florida, I want to thank Lt. Governor Carroll for taking responsibility for her words and for responding to the harm those words inflicted," Smith wrote. "Apologies by elected leaders for public mistakes are rare and it is to the Lt. Governor’s credit that she has taken this step."

Previously: in response to her words, HuffPost Gay Voices tweeted a call for lesbian women to post pictures of themselves on Twitter with the hashtag #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike -- to show, as one respondent put it, that lesbians come in "all colors, all sizes, all hairstyles!" Check out the slideshow of responses below:

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  • Dear Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, As a black feminine lesbian woman, I would like to thank you. I would also like to inform you that black lesbians look just like you. Within your moment of ignorance you have reminded me why being visible and remaining visible is so important. You have labeled lesbian gender expression as being deviant, and have both denied and revoked black lesbian femininity. Since I don't have a visual lesbian identifier you have tried to silence me. As a femme I walk through the world with a sense of invisibility because some may automatically assume that I am straight. By claiming my femme identity and speaking about the invisibility I face, I hope to create a safer and more free flowing existence for other femme identified lesbians and queer women. I hope that this action outweighs the influence of your ignorance. - Alysia Gradney

  • <a href="https://‏twitter.com/j_pesek" target="_hplink">‏@j_pesek</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/Jessi_chemlab" target="_hplink">@Jessi_chemlab</a>: Late to the game but ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/sylviatwits" target="_hplink">@sylviatwits</a>: ‪#thisiswhatalesbianlookslike‬...

  • Jaye

    Dear Lt. Gov. Homophobe - Black women who are professional, well educated, well spoken and well dressed just might be lesbians, too!

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/asianintheair" target="_hplink">@asianintheair</a>: @huffpostgay FYI: @ltgovcarroll ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ Breaking stereotypes one lesbian at a time.

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/GSand1804" target="_hplink">@GSand1804</a> Open Letter to Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carrol <a href="http://adauphin04.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/open-letter-to-lt-gov-jennifer-carroll/" target="_hplink">http://wp.me/pZYmb-5R</a> ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/zekaralie" target="_hplink">@zekaralie</a>: One of the most humorous hashtags I've had the pleasure of tweeting (@huffpostgay) ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/thisquietcity" target="_hplink">@thisquietcity</a>: Hey @ltgovcarroll, #thisiswhatalesbianlookslike! And guess what, I'm moving to your state in 2 weeks.

  • Hope F.: The moment I wanted to be the "Dad" when I played house with the girls in kindergarden, I knew I was different. The Dad's got a kiss goodbye from the Mommy when he left for work. How awesome was that? I could get a kiss and not be looked at wierd. I came out as a Queer Lesbian when I was 19 years old and haven't looked back. This is What a Black Lesbian Looks Like.

  • Louren R.: Good luck with this project! That woman is unbelievable.

  • Angela & Emily T.: Real lesbians look like real people.....that love each other.

  • Sandy (left), Halima (right): This is what a black lesbian inlove looks like.

  • Christine S.: Very proud of my family and of being a lesbian!!

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/tess_tangents" target="_hplink">@tess_tangents</a>: @huffpostgay #thisiswhatalesbianlookslike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/ClillaryHinton1" target="_hplink">@ClillaryHinton1</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/TtownAmStaff" target="_hplink">@TtownAmStaff</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/lesbianinfla" target="_hplink">@lesbianinfla</a>: ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ - @huffpostgay

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/Wilson_Meghan" target="_hplink">@Wilson_Meghan</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#thisiswhatalesbianlookslike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/cbossberry" target="_hplink">@CBossenberry</a>: Dear, @LtGovCarroll ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/ArykanotErika" target="_hplink">@ArykanotErika</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#thisiswhatalesbianlookslike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/cereusarts" target="_hplink">@cereusarts</a>: @huffpostgay #THISISWHATALEsbianLooksLike #Revival2012

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/QueerieBradshaw" target="_hplink">@QueerieBradshaw</a>: Hey @ltgovcarroll , ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ @huffpostgay

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/signmykeyboard" target="_hplink">@‏signmykeyboard</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬.

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/drummergirl1976" target="_hplink">@drummergirl1976</a>: @ltgovcarroll, ‪#ThisisWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ ... my wife and I

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/brandybressler" target="_hplink">@brandybressler</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • @lisadawnstew

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/bridgeo" target="_hplink">@bridgeo</a>

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/pareconnie" target="_hplink">@pareconnie</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ in love!

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/mychangeiam" target="_hplink">@mychangeiam</a>

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/grandvampire" target="_hplink">@grandvampire</a>: Them, or should I say, us: @chelywright @trishbendix @TETUEcom @Barbieturix ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ (@huffpostgay)

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/gradly" target="_hplink">@gradly</a>

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/rmd172" target="_hplink">@rmd172</a>: Hi @LtGovCarroll ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ when she visits Cali. @doriaroberts @huffpostgay

  • @xenafan2006: ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/ashleydp" target="_hplink">@ashleydp</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ we are all colors, all sizes, all hairstyles! Welcome to the 21st century!

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/C_Rod224" target="_hplink">@C_Rod224</a>: @huffpostgay #thisiswhatalesbianlookslike #floridasucks

  • @thatsballin: @huffpostgay Yo, Lt. Gov Carroll, #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/michellep478" target="_hplink">@michellep478</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬ Me kayaking with my 13 yr old son

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/Hintch00" target="_hplink">@Hintch00</a>: ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/AtlantaKim" target="_hplink">@AtlantaKim</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#thisiswhatalesbianlookslike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/ka_mitchell" target="_hplink">@ka_mitchell</a>: Hey FL Lt. Gov: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/stefanihartly" target="_hplink">@stefanihartly</a>: @huffpostgay ‪#ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/SheBadSheGorJuz" target="_hplink">@SheBadSheGorJuz</a>: ‪#ThisIswhataLesbianlookslike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/brock_dior" target="_hplink"> @Brock_Dior</a>: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/KennasABitch" target="_hplink">@KennasABitch</a>: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike‬

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/EmmaBean_15" target="_hplink">@EmmaBean_15</a>: @huffpostgay #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/missidgie" target="_hplink">@missidgie</a>: ‪#thisiswhatalesbianlookslike‬ x2!

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/BrokenJey" target="_hplink">@BrokenJey</a>: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike @huffpostgay

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/PinkPrincess030" target="_hplink">@PinkPrincess030</a>: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/MaureenWillmann" target="_hplink">@MaureenWillmann</a>: Hey @LtGovCarroll, #ThisisWhataLesbianLooksLike in her backyard.

  • <a href="https://twitter.com/StaceyDesro" target="_hplink">@StaceyDesro</a>: #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike People are ignorant...like the woman from Florida. There is NO "look"! ;)