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."
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: