The owner of an Florida-based towing company is facing charges of illegally towing vehicles of visitors who took part in an Orlando "Gay Days" event.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, ASAP Towing owner Jason P. Combs faces 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and other charges, after he allegedly towed more than 100 vehicles from a parking lot at Westwood Town Center off International Drive in Orlando. The parking lot is situated across the street from Doubletree by Hilton, which was hosting a "Gay Days" event at the time.
Combs didn't have an updated contract to tow vehicles or proper signage indicating that the parking lot was a tow-away zone, deputies told the Sentinel. In addition, officials said the company used "spotters" so that cars could be removed within 15 minutes of parking, and as the Associated Press reported, many owners of the towed vehicles complained that the company targeted their cars based on their sexual orientation.
"This was total predator towing," Corporal Rick Schmeltzer said. "There's really no other word for it."
According to the New York Daily News, however, Combs' attorney claims his client did have a valid contract. In addition, the fact that the alleged incidents took place during Orlando's "Gay Days" celebrations was irrelevant.
"The fact that the [criminal] complaint said something about Gay Days makes me wonder what's behind it," de Armas, who said Combs has nothing against the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) community, is quoted as saying. "If someone shoplifted during Gay Days would the complaint mention that it happened during Gay Days?"
Orlando's "Gay Days," which comprises a series of events in and around the Walt Disney World resort and other area attractions, has come under fire from a number of conservative pundits in the past.
“The homosexual agenda is planning to once again descend upon Disney World in Orlando, Floria to expose your children to far more than Mickey Mouse and Space Mountain," religious right activist Janet Porter declared in a radio bulletin earlier this year, adding that "cross-dressing men will be among those parading public displays of perversion" at the theme parks.
In 2013, One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association best known for threatening to boycott JC Penney after the retail chain hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson, argued that the event violated Disney's obligation to "maintain a family-friendly atmosphere and require proper conduct and dress code."
The Walt Disney Company has never officially sanctioned "Gay Days" -- which has been deemed "the world's most popular gay and lesbian celebration" by its organizers and draws an estimated 150,000 LGBT travelers to the resort's four theme parks each year -- and has requested employees to treat it just like any other day, according to Time magazine.