16 Breast-Feed in Protest at Public Meeting

A city commission candidate was criticized for breast-feeding her daughter during a public meeting, so 16 other mothers turned up and nursed their children at another gathering as a show of support.

Gabrielle Redfern (search) apologized for offending anyone, but says she won't stop breast-feeding her child when necessary. She had been criticized by some for breast-feeding her 1-year-old daughter, Elsie, during Mayor David Dermer's (search) recent State of the City address.

"Elsie's been coming to public meetings since she was 2 weeks old," said Redfern, who is in her first bid for public office. "I shouldn't have to choose between being a publicly involved citizen and being a good mother."

On Wednesday, 16 women held a "nurse-in" in support of Redfern, breast-feeding their babies at a Miami Beach Commission meeting.

"How is she supposed to raise her child and have a career if she isn't allowed to breast-feed her child when she attends meetings?" said Ellen Sandoval, who came to show her support. "I quit working because I didn't know or have the courage to do what she is doing."

State law says a woman can breast-feed her child anywhere she is otherwise legally allowed to be.

But even in a city where topless sunbathing is common, others say there should be limits.

"I think it's a beautiful and natural thing, but there's a time and a place for it," said Joe Fontana, who regularly attends community meetings. "It's distracting. Why inside? Why not step outside to do it?"