TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

A gay rights group is demanding an apology from Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who, in an attempt to explain away allegations that she had a lesbian affair, recently told reporters essentially she's too pretty to be gay.

Under fire by a former employee accusing her of carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer, Carroll offered this explanation.

"Black women who look like me don't engage in relationships like that," she said.

Carroll's comments sparked backlash from gay and lesbian groups. The latest comes from Equality Florida. The advocacy organization started an online petition demanding an apology from Carroll.

The petition was launched Wednesday, and by Thursday afternoon the group had nearly meet its goal.

The petition asks Carroll to "have the character to apologize for your statement that demeans and diminishes the existence of black lesbians and stereotypes all black women."

Louise Ritchie, of a corporate diversity consultant, signed it.

"I think there are many people in the state who don't want to support ignorance and would be happy to sign the petition," she said.

Ritchie is a clinical physiologist and has taught diversity courses at some of the country's top businesses.

"I think it is a teachable moment, and it is a time that many people can learn that you can't look at a person and tell if they're gay," she said.

Ritchie is straight, but said she has gay friends who look like her.

In the aftermath of Carroll's comments, Twitter has exploded with people making similar statements and tweeting pictures. One tweet aimed at Carroll reads, "I am what a black lesbian looks like and so are you."

The governor's office has not yet responded when asked what Carroll meant by her statement and if she plans to apologize.