Feature: Speak OUT June 25, 2014

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What do you think about Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler voting against marriage equality?

The right to marriage equality should not be taken for granted, as we have seen with the legislative diminishment of reproductive rights. Mayor Jack Seiler should not be given a pass on his vote for "separate but equal." Ft. Lauderdale's LGBT community has far less political influence than it should.

— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist

Federal law does not confer the same rights to partners in civil unions as it does to married couples. By only supporting civil unions, Mayor Seiler is communicating to his constituents that he views gays and lesbians as merely second class citizens, not to be treated equally as mandated by the constitution of this country. His improvident political ambition trumps the basic, enduring principles under which this nation was founded. His cowardly abandonment of responsible legislating will cost him much more than votes from a, heretofore, favorable electorate in the next election; it will have cost him his place marker on the right side of history on a great civil rights movement of our time. The United States is moving forward with or without Mayor Seiler. I am thoroughly disgusted with his vote, and we all should question, if not doubt, whether he is worthy of representing the people of this “all American” city. 

— Jason King, Advocacy and Legislative Affairs Manager in AIDS Healthcare Foundation's southern region

At first glance, favoring civil unions as an acceptable position may seem like a step in the right direction, however looking at equality as a whole would mean equal rights for all members of the community, both straight and gay. To many civil unions and marriage are similar but not the same, even with full benefits. According the U.S. Census LGBT identified households make up 2.8 percent of the general Fort Lauderdale population — outranking Seattle (2.6 percent) and San Francisco (2.5 percent). As those percentages rise due to the area’s desirable location and affordable housing market, support for marriage equality should be a top priority for, not just the LGBT community, but advocates and elected officials as well.

— A.J. Alegria, President of Impulse Group — Fort Lauderdale

As a religious person, I will continue working until complete marriage equality is the law of the land. Marriage is a sacred institution that elevates holiness onto couples, makes a family from two separate individuals, and inspires the community.  We teach that God is delighted when two people come together in commitment and joy.

— Noah Kitty, Rabbi and Executive Director of Congregation Etz Chaim

Florida leads among southern states in support for marriage equality. Perhaps our politicians and lawmakers should be required to take a diversity-training course. The gay marriage momentum is strong and our community is united.

— Lori Lynch, Executive Director, LGBT Visitor Center of Miami Beach

Unfortunately since Windsor, Marriage equality in Florida has not evolved beyond two distinct forms of discrimination.  First is the discrimination that results from Florida’s statutory and constitutional ban, which prevents people of the same gender from getting married.  Second is Florida’s refusal to recognize the lawfully entered marriages of same gender from other states and the resulting inability to divorce.  From the national landscape Windsor was a major leap forward for LGBT rights but absent substantial legal changes, Florida continues to be devoid of marriage equality.  The Law Offices of George Castrataro, PA is currently litigating a case against the State of Florida seeking to force the recognition of marriages validly entered in other states.  Simultaneously, Liz Schartz, Esq. is diligently litigating a case seeking to force the State of Florida to allow same gender marriage.  Both cases are being pursued with the diligent assistance of the Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

— George Castrataro, noted attorney and LGBT activist




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