BROWARD, Fla. – The vice president of the LGBTQ political group Log Cabin Republicans, Gilberto Montalvo, doesn't hide his sexual identity, but he said he never expected to be attacked for it by a Broward Sheriff's Office captain.
But he said that happened this week when BSO Capt. Ira Goldberg, one of Sheriff Scott Israel’s closest friends in the department, claimed in a Facebook post that Montalvo had hired people to protest against Israel at a political event this weekend. Montalvo, a vocal critic of the sheriff, says that was false, he didn’t pay anyone. But it was what Goldberg said next that he says was flat-out homophobic.
"I hope you offered them money instead of sexual favors," wrote Goldberg. "Those men deserve better."
Montalvo said he was shocked when he read it because the captain was demeaning him based on his sexual identity.
"It’s an attack on my integrity. It’s an attack on my sexuality," said Montalvo. "That was posted on social media for everyone to see. I felt that he was calling me a prostitute."
When Goldberg was criticized for the post, he didn’t take it down – instead he doubled down on the attack, saying he stood behind his statement and that if Montalvo had a problem with it he should call WPLG investigative reporter Bob Norman, which is exactly what Montalvo did.
"When you do an attack to a person because he is gay, you are attacking an entire community, all of the LGBTQ community," he said.
Indeed, gay activist Michael Rajner, who staunchly disagrees with Montalvo’s politics and has supported Israel in his past campaigns, said Goldberg’s remarks clearly crossed the line.
"I think it’s completely inappropriate for somebody in law enforcement to make that type of comment," said Rajner, who was especially troubled by Goldberg’s refusal to remove the comment. "This is just somebody being ignorant and putting their head in the sand and probably really should not be in that position working with the community."
BSO spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright wrote in an e-mail to Local 10 News that when Israel learned about the Facebook post he started an internal investigation into Goldberg, adding that all BSO employees are expected to conduct themselves without bias to sexual orientation. BSO’s social media policy forbids posts that "discredit" the deputy or the agency, as well as posts that are “unprofessional, unbecoming, illegal, unethical, sexual, violent, harassing, racist, sexist, or ethnically derogatory comments.”
Since the investigation began, Goldberg finally removed the posts. He didn’t respond to a voice mail for comment left for him at BSO. Montalvo said he believes Goldberg should be fired, but he said he doesn’t expect much punishment, He notes that Goldberg is one of Israel's closest campaign supporters, is often at the sheriff’s side at community and political events, and that the sheriff promoted him all the way from jail deputy to captain after his election.
“They are really good friends and I don't think that there are going to be any consequences to this captain for his behavior,” said Montalvo.