|Tampa, FL – The Florida National Organization for Women (NOW) expresses profound sorrow and outrage at the tragic death of John Walter Lay, a beloved member of the LGBTQ+ community, who was fatally shot last week at the West Dog Park in Tampa. Lay’s untimely demise serves as a distressing reminder of the profound violence and discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in our society, exacerbated by hateful rhetoric and discriminatory policies perpetuated by extremist factions within our legislature and Governor’s office.
According to reports, Lay was subjected to months of harassment and threats, culminating in his untimely death. Despite compelling evidence of targeted harassment and intimidation, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has yet to arrest or charge the shooter, Gerald Declan Radford. This lack of swift action is deeply troubling and sends a chilling message to LGBTQ+ individuals that their lives are not valued equally.
Debbie DeLand, President of Florida NOW, issued the following statement:
Florida NOW calls on the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office to thoroughly investigate Lay’s death and prosecute Radford to the fullest extent of the law. Furthermore, Florida NOW calls for the elected officials in Florida who have been acting to strip away the rights and autonomy of LGBTQ+ Floridians to do better, to stop inflaming hate and emboldening violence in our state.
In honor of John Walter Lay’s memory, Florida NOW reaffirms its commitment to advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and working towards a society where all individuals are treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law.
For media inquiries or further information, please contact Florida NOW President Debbie DeLand directly at (407) 234-6408.
Florida NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women, girls, and non-binary people in all aspects of social, political, and economic life. Our six priority issues are LGBTQ+ Rights, Reproductive Freedom, Racial Justice, Freedom From Violence, Economic Equality, and Constitutional Equality.