Two letters in response to Mayor Jack Seiler's anti-gay marriage stance...
We Urge Mayor Seiler to Reevaluate His Position
By Tony Lima
Mayor Seiler's vote against a symbolic resolution in support of marriage equality is disappointing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that he leads a city ranked by The Advocate as the fourth-gayest in America.
Not only does a large and diverse LGBT population reside in Fort Lauderdale, but according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the greater Fort Lauderdale area is called home by the largest number of LGBT couples in the country and hosted 1.3 million LGBT visitors last year who spent a collective $1.5 billion.
Think about that. Marriage equality is poised to benefit an economy, which already benefits from LGBT tourism and families in a huge way. In a region like South Florida still suffering under the effects of the Great Recession, we need local leaders who will do everything in their power to support opportunity for all — including supporting economic opportunities in the form of jobs generated by the inevitable rush of LGBT nuptials by tourists and residents alike.
Setting aside the shared economic benefits of a pro-equality stance, Mayor Seiler has said he supports civil unions for same-sex couples with the full benefits of marriage. We appreciate his attempt to accommodate LGBT couples, but we have passed the point in the debate where this is an acceptable position. Calling marriage something else when it is performed between two loving, committed adults of the same sex creates a second-class status for LGBT married couples, regardless of whether the status formally confers the same legal benefits as marriage between heterosexual couples.
Mayor Seiler has claimed to support equality for LGBT people. In the end, his vote against marriage equality didn't matter because the resolution passed without his support. But if Mayor Seiler believes that a vote for or against a symbolic marriage equality resolution is meaningless, and therefore he will be given a free pass to vote against LGBT people, we strongly urge him to reevaluate his position.
As the mayor of a renowned LGBT destination like Fort Lauderdale, Mayor Seiler should know better than to treat equality for LGBT people as a non-issue, especially when local pressure from resolutions such as the Fort Lauderdale Commission's can help move the needle of public opinion in our favor. We reiterate that SAVE strongly encourages Mayor Seiler and Vice Mayor Romney Rogers to reevaluate their positions on marriage equality for South Floridians, which we consider anti-equality so long as they fail to support nothing less than extension of equal marriage rights to all same-sex couples.
Reflections on Mayor Jack Seiler’s ‘Ungrateful’ Statement
By Michael Rajner
Before going out to celebrate LGBT Pride Month with my community in Wilton Manors this afternoon, I'm taking some time to write my public response to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler on his statements resulting from this week's vote on marriage equality in Fort Lauderdale.
Not only was Seiler's vote Tuesday evening a slap in the face of the LGBT community, but his further statement that we are ungrateful is outrageous! Jack just doesn't get it.
But, we must pause and be mindful and thankful to both Commissioner Dean Trantalis and Mayor Seiler for the opportunity to engage in a critical public dialogue on the issues that marginalize the lives of LGBT people from the rest of the society. Mayor Seiler has failed to demonstrate empathy throughout this week's dialogue.
I appreciate and value the opportunities and times when Mayor Seiler took action on my past requests, but I reject his telling the LGBT community that we are ungrateful and treat us as some building developer that has fallen out of favor. Mayor Seiler, we are fighting for equality, not for a city contract. Mayor Seiler, you are no Nan Rich and have no justification to demean the LGBT community in calling us ungrateful!
Not much has changed since 2012 when I told a former Fort Lauderdale city commissioner to "pick up the flag and carry it with pride."