Mayor Jack Seiler Exclusive Comments On Same Sex Marriage Vote





It was a very difficult vote, and it has generated dozens of comments in support and in opposition.

In fact, I have been criticized for voting “no”; been complimented and thanked for voting “no”; been criticized for stating that I support civil unions; and, been criticized for allowing the vote to go forward. The issue is and has been divisive, and now there are even numerous individuals who insist that I, as Mayor, not sign the Ceremonial Resolution. Of course, as Mayor, I will sign the Ceremonial Resolution passed by our City Commission and we will send it to Tallahassee.

However, I must admit that I am somewhat surprised that, after twenty two (22) years of actively supporting the Gay and Lesbian community throughout the State of Florida, one vote on a ceremonial, non-binding issue would cause a few in the LGBT community to mount personal attacks.

As you know, I signed the first municipal domestic partnership ordinance in Broward County when I was Mayor of Wilton Manors. At that time, I was heavily criticized by the majority for extending those benefits, but I felt it was the right thing to do.

As you also know, I signed the first domestic partnership ordinance in Fort Lauderdale when I became Mayor a few years ago.

While in the House of Representatives, I fought for domestic partnership benefits at the State level, fought to implement civil unions, fought to allow gay adoption, fought to include sexual orientation in non-discrimination clauses at the State level, fought to include sexual orientation in anti-bullying legislation, fought to protect gay and lesbian students in the school system, worked closely with Equality Florida on numerous and multiple issues, etc.

Since the 1990’s, I have always supported civil unions with full and equal benefits.

I have been consistent in and with that position, long before it became acceptable to the majority.

I will continue to support civil unions with full and equal benefits, as I believe gays and lesbians should have equal rights under the law.

Nobody should be discriminated against, and we need to treat everybody with dignity, respect, and fairness.



36 Responses to “Mayor Jack Seiler Exclusive Comments On Same Sex Marriage Vote”

  1. Sto says:

    I am GAY and I still support you Jack

  2. Alanna O. Mersinger says:

    Why are we afraid to use the word married? The term domestic partnership or civil union does not bring with it the same connotation as the word marriage. Words do matter!
    I have been married to my husband George for 39 years, and I am still trying to understand how a same sex couple who are married diminishes my marriage in any way. The only people who can diminish my marriage is my husband and me. Besides the social ramifications of not being able to marry there are the numerous legal implications. You can dance around it all you want, when two people pledge to be together in a large ceremony or a small they are married.

  3. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Civil unions, by definition, can never provide either “full and equal benefits” or “equal rights under the law”. This has been legally known since 2004 – more than a decade ago.

    If marriage is just a legal institution, then why aren’t civil unions enough? Marriage is a state institution recognized in every state and at the federal level. Civil unions are exclusively state-based. Like domestic partnerships, they provide some state benefits, but they are not portable from state-to-state, and they receive no federal recognition. In addition, the separate status of “civil unions” stigmatizes lesbian and gay families as unworthy of perhaps the most basic foundation of our society.

    2003: The Massachusetts Supreme Court held that the state law barring same-sex marriage was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts constitution and ordered the legislature to remedy the discrimination within six months (Goodridge v. Department of Public Health). In February 2004, the court ruled that offering civil unions instead of civil marriage would not meet the requirements set forth in Goodridge.

    October 2008: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state’s civil union law discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and was unconstitutional and that “the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a [constitutionally] cognizable harm.” The court held that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry, and the state started issuing marriage licenses in November 2008.

    Civil Unions Are Not Enough
    Six Key Reasons Why (PDF)

    Separate and Not Equal
    The New York Times
    Published: December 20, 2008

    Civil unions are an inadequate substitute for marriage. Creating a separate, new legal structure to confer some benefits on same-sex couples neither honors American ideals of fairness, nor does it grant true equality. …

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Mayor Seiler, are you aware of former Fort Lauderdale City Commission candidate Earl Rynerson’s observation that “Fort Lauderdale still allows discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in City contracts!” and that he has called upon the City of Fort Lauderdale to “Include “Non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation” wording in all contracts that the City has with outside entities“?

    Mayor Seiler, what is your current position on this important issue?

  5. Dave says:

    I think it was a cowardly response to a city and ‘community’ that supported Jack. He’s playing off as ‘this one doesn’t matte’ and if that’s the case then why vote against it? Over a billion LGBT dollars annually are spent here in Fort Lauderdale, don’t you think it’s just ‘the right thing to do?’
    Everything I read that you are setting yourself up for your next political move must be true… Its a shame you’ve elected to not support the people that have supported you.

  6. Dave says:

    I think it was a cowardly response to a city and ‘community’ that supported Jack. He’s playing off as ‘this one doesn’t matter’ and if that’s the case then why vote against it? Over a billion LGBT dollars annually are spent here in Fort Lauderdale, don’t you think it’s just ‘the right thing to do?’
    Everything I read that you are setting yourself up for your next political move must be true… Its a shame you’ve elected to not support the people that have supported you.

  7. Sam The Sham says:


    I don’t agree with you on much but I do agree with you on this issue. Good show of testicular fortitude.

  8. Dexter says:

    Sounds a little like “wanting cake …”
    It’s sad to see such a great city with such poor leadership like Fort Lauderdale. If you want to stand out Mr Mayor, STAND UP!

    You did the wrong thing and you know it

  9. count l f chodkiewicz chudzikiewicz says:

    Because i believe in the separation of church n state i suported the reso as supporting equal access to civil process for gays n lesbians in accordance with my understanding of the constitution. The quality of an elected official is never based on either this or that vote or an interpretation of constitutional law. However extremists of the left and right always use the litmus test on this or that to attack undermine and character assassinate decent, honest, uostanding public officials like mayor seiler or vice mayor rogers.
    And specifically attacks on mayor seiler by people who werent even here when mayor seiler was fighting in the state house for gay n lesbian or black or womens or jewish civil rights really is several levels below the gutter

  10. Alice McGill says:

    “At this point, what difference does it make?”.

  11. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @8 – Elections are about the future, not about the past. If Seiler was elected to the Florida House and then he did some good things while he was there, that’s him repaying the voters for choosing him to be their state representative.

    People are now asking themselves whether Seiler has a future as an elected official. If the conclusion is that he does not, then Seiler gets thanked for his years of service and sent into retirement. If you think he did a good job in the past, then maybe you should buy him a nice gold watch as a retirement gift.

  12. FTL Voter says:

    It isn’t just “one ceremonial vote” we are upset with you over, it is you stubborn opposition to support marriage equality. It don’t want my marriage called something else because you feel too insecure to truly grant us equal rights. Go look at the major LGBT rulings by the US Supreme Court last year: they clearly held civil unions are not the sane as marriage under the law.

    Although I am a lifelong Democrat and a liberal, I can see myself voting for Bruce Roberts for mayor if he challenges you next year, Jack.

    So, yes, your view against true marriage equality does seal the deal for me: I cannot vote for you again.

  13. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Jack,
    I have now read your statement twice and I now know that your position was not procedural but is substantive.

    But I still don’t know the “substantive” reason.

    I expected to see a sentence that said: “Although I support civil unions, I am against gay marriage because….”

    I didn’t.

    The only reason I can guess is that it has something to do with being a Catholic and your Church’s unrelenting opposition to gay marriage.

    Clarify your reasons.

    Telling me that you are consistent only recalls Emerson’s observation that: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.

    I grew up in a world were homosexuality was a mental disorder. Tormenting them was a civic obligation. It was not until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association reversed its position.

    I’ve done a 180. You have done a 150.

    In light of new evidence we should never stop evolving.

    If not, I would still be arguing the Vietnam War was the right thing.

    Twenty years ago gay marriage probably had under 5% support.
    Today it is a majority and growing. Should we criticize the majority for inconsistency?

    Should we applaud those who have always opposed interracial marriage (once the majority position in this county) and denounce as intellectual traitors those who changed their minds?

    Jack, you are on the wrong side of history on this one. But, I am convinced there will come a day when you recognize this and preside over a gay wedding.

    In the meantime, tell me why.

  14. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @13 – Sam, he did provide a substantive reason: “I will continue to support civil unions with full and equal benefits, as I believe gays and lesbians should have equal rights under the law.

    As I proved in #3, Seiler’s conclusion (civil unions) does not follow from his premise (equal rights under the law). His position is therefore illogical.

    This mayor either can’t perform logical reasoning correctly, or is very cynically and fervently blowing Grade A bullshit at the voters.

  15. John Henry says:

    First, this is all just political grandstanding on an non-pertinent issue.

    Second, the Mayor was purposely maneuvered into a lose-lose situation by someone with an ax to grind.

    Third, regardless of the vote outcome this resolution is going to fall on deaf ears in Tallahassee.

    The commission has bigger fish to fry besides and shouldn’t dealing with stuff like this in the first place. I’d rather see the City’s homeless problem solved over making a small minority of City citizens feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  16. tell the truth says:

    Buddy I respect you as a Journalist to give forum to others.

    That said the tap dancing, parsing, double talk and semantics is clearly demonstrative that the mayor, although not intending or pretending to back track on his lame vote, wants to tap dance, parse and double talk the vote.

    The cake has been baked.
    The deal is sealed.

    Silly word like marriage which means one thing in the bible, one thing in a statute, one thing in the vatican and one thing in a kitchen (marriage of ingredients).
    All the votes he cast in the FL House of reps with 120 members get lost in the mix.

    A vote from the little dais stands out. He will get to practice law full time come March.

  17. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Look I respect all of my elected colleagues in other cities. So this is not intended to show anybody up, grandstand, etc. But a few things need to be said.

    The US Supreme Court has many times ruled that marriage is a fundamentally protected Constitutional right.

    In order for any state, even by constitutional amendment, to take away any of our guaranteed constitutional rights, they must first demonstrate a compelling and legitimate state interest. This is well established law and to date no state in America has been able to overcome that burden.

    Federal appeals courts in state after state have ruled that the only possible reason a state might have to deny marriage to any two same sex persons is to dehumanize them. Directly or indirectly, with or without intent, the effect of that denial is dehumanizing. That’s what results when we deny rights to some that the rest of us enjoy without a very powerful reason, and most commonly because we don’t like them somehow. Doing that violates the equal protection clause.

    We’ve seen the same thing done to Blacks, Women, Jews and other religions. We saw with age discrimination, we’re still seeing it with equal pay for equal work. Each time, when these things are challenged, the rule of law shines through. We’re entitled to our own views in America. But we’re not entitled to deny people their rights under the law.

    This discussion has nothing to do with religions which remain now and forever free to do what they want, choose what marriages they want to bless, all of that is their business and government has no role in that area.

    Religion does not even come into this discussion.

    This issue is singularly about about whether a state can legally bar same sex couples from marrying without showing a legitimate state interest requires the ban.

    Federal courts of appeal reviewing that question have all said no. Not even a majority of voters may remove from any one citizen their fundamental civil rights without compelling cause.

    Equal protection is not a scarce commodity that some may choose to dispense capriciously or in short portions to others. We may not deny legal rights to others because we don’t like them. Safeguarding that principle is central to our consent to be governed. Again and again states have forced to learn that lesson.

    I found it interesting that in my city, marriage equality was never a question. We all supported it.

    But we had a harder time reasoning through domestic partnership — to which no fundamentally protected Constitutional right applies.

    Fort Lauderdale was quick to approve Domestic Partnership and slow to act on same sex marriage rights. I found that contrast interesting.

    Anyway, for the most part, it’s good public policy for government to promote the idea that when two adults love each other, they should marry. Governments have been doing that for thousands of years and it’s still good social policy.

    Domestic partnership was a tool that local government in Florida used as a patch to fill a gap in justice caused by the absence of marriage equality. The patch helped, but honestly there can never be a substitute for the real thing. Marriage knows no equal.

    The patch was designed specifically to help same sex couples, but it had to be extended to opposite sex couples too in order to avoid discrimination law suits.

    Oddly enough, about 75% of all Broward domestic partners today are opposite sex couples.

    When the Windsor case was decided last year by the US Supreme Court everything about how we should think about same sex marriage started to change. Now 17 or so same sex marriage bans have already been declared unconstitutional by federal courts of appeal. It’s only a matter of time until the US Supreme Court inevitably rules that no state may bar same sex marriage without demonstrating a compelling state interest.

    Right now gays can marry in many states and internationally, in fact thousands have been and I’m proud of them for it. I therefore reject the argument that “cost and convenience” is a barrier that keeps gays from marrying, therefore we need to continue having domestic partnership. For me that logic is way too tenuous.

    I personally would have gone to China to marry my wife if that’s what it took. And I would have gladly borrowed or done without to afford it. So it’s just to suggest that when you love your partner, want to marry, can can marry someplace reasonably close, that you will not marry them.

    People in love who want to marry just don’t make those excuses. To me, that remains the more persuasive and likely view.

    So, in a post-Windsor America, the need for domestic partnership to serve as a patch is no longer there so long as your marriage is accepted by your employer for the purposes of employee benefits, which Windsor basically requires from insurance companies now, because they operate under federal laws.

    I realize this may not be a popular view among some. Still, it is responsible public policy and truthful.

    So long as your employer respects you enough to give benefits to all married employees, you should marry. I sponsored that ordinance in my city and it passed unanimously without much discussion at all. Common sense, good law, strong policy.

    Now, going forward, I’m OK with domestic partnership as a public recognition with no obligations. But it should have its own definition. Not marriage-light, not duplication of marriage, and not single. Something unique to Domestic Partnership.

    For example, there are seniors in my community, many of them widowed, who have met other people later in life. They’ve started new relationships but do NOT want financial entanglements with them.

    Domestic partnership is a perfect answer and I fully support that.

    But giving DP’s employee benefits, at this point in time, when every employee can now get married, with no obligations to go along with it, just made no sense to me.

    Especially under some bizarre argument that Domestic Partnership is the equal of marriage. Can you imagine? I actually had colleagues of mine and members of the public, including state legislators lobbying down to us on this issue, some running for office, that marriage was the rightful equal of domestic partnership.

    That equality demanded that we treat domestic partnership equal to marriage. Again, I found that discussion bizarre.

    Marriage knows no equal friends, not under the law or in any sense. That argument is gibberish, and if it doesn’t compute for your either, there’s still hope for us both.

    Logically there should be married and single. Domestically partnered can be added, but if so it should be defined on it’s own merits.

    What’s the point of having two “married” classes? Competing with each other. Clouding the waters.

    I thought it was pointless, but the majority of my commission wanted it passionately, and felt they needed this element of social re-engineering, so I went with it because hey, who knows. They may be right and it’s not like my generation has been very respectful of marriage with a 50% divorce rate.

    Anyway, they insisted I was over thinking the thing, worrying too much, and perhaps I am. It doesn’t feel that way but I’m open to the suggestion.

    I just hope they’re right because the whole thing still makes no sense to me.

    I don’t care much for the notion of equalizing some lesser form of contract, granting it the same benefits as marriage but none of the obligations. Who would want to marry if we do that?

    Let’s see.


  18. Sam The Sham says:

    Apart from the gay agenda of redefining the word, marriage has always meant the joining of a man and a woman. That goes through all societies, cultures, religions and governments for the past several thousand years.

    Gays are allowed to marry. No rights are denied here. A gay man can marry any woman who will have him. A lesbian can marry any man who wants her.


    For much of American and world history, slavery was permitted. Things change.

    Same sex marriage is permitted in numerous countries, including Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and parts of Mexico.

    I can’t understand why anybody would deny two people who love each other the right to marry.

  19. Chaz Stevens says:

    With Seiler as Mayor, the residents of Fort Lauderdale have been taking up the ass for years.

    Given this, you’d think Seiler’s position (pun!) would be a bit more progressive.

  20. Señor Censor says:


    You have too much time on your hands get yourself a newspaper gig.

    Your loving wife

  21. Sam The Sham says:

    Great Apples to Oranges comparison, Buddy.

    “I can’t understand why anybody would deny two people who love each other the right to marry.”

    Really? Then I would have the right to marry my father or mother? My sister or brother? My son or daughter? Surely you would not be so bigoted as to judge me for that relationship. Who is to say what the nature of my love would be for these people? And while we are redefining marriage, let’s not forget polygamy. I should have the right to marry two, three or four people of any sex, and each of them has the right to marry as many people as they want also. If love is the criteria for valid marriage, then surely you would not deny me.

    If you disagree with my premise, then you are guilty of setting biased and arbitrary rules on love and marriage. Just as you would accuse me.

    If you agree with my premise, it shows the depravity of your argument and anybody with two brain cells to rub together would recognize the societal chaos it would cause.

  22. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Senior,

    Thanks for the advice, but this is a moderately serious blog for folks that actually think about public policy in Broward County.

    I make time for the things that interest me and shall continue doing so.

    Best wishes.


  23. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I’m sometimes accused of writing at length but there’s a reason.

    Public policy can’t be captured in a sound bite. It’s not as simple as scratch, sniff, and you’re done. You have to go into it with a sense of patient curiosity, diligence, and understanding that the topic has depth. Public policy often has layers, exceptions, dimensions that exist well below the surface. It requires effort, a desire to study and then ponder what you find.

    In the case of your comment, the answer is superficial.

    In my remarks above, you will note that States MAY deprive a fundamentally protected civil right IF they can demonstrate that advancement of a compelling state interest demands it.

    Marrying a blood relative is contrary to public health laws therefore a compelling state interest. Similarly, attaining age 18 before marriage, with limited exception, is linked to adult capacity to enter a legal contract. Not marrying someone under duress likewise stems from contract law. These are examples of proper and accepted state imposed limitations on marriage.

    States have the right to regulate marriage using that kind of rational criteria. Which differs from capricious preference.

    For example, the law used to forbid marriage between Whites and Blacks. Folks felt that would cause societal chaos too. Has it? On what basis did they feel that way? Was it a rational or prejudiced basis?

    You’d need to justify what societal chaos you suggest would result from gay marriage, and that justification would need to fit within the context of a legally enforceable legitimate state interest.

    Each and every state with a same sex marriage ban has been forced to undergo that challenge before many different federal courts of appeal.

    Each has failed to meet that burden under the law and their bans have been ruled unconstitutional by those courts as a result.

    You are free to dislike people for any reason you wish, no law can or should ever attempt to change that. Americans are free to dislike others for whatever reasons they wish. But they can’t take away another person’s rights without a very good reason. That line they may not cross in disguise of freedom.



  24. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I am sorry Mayor Seiler is facing this type of harrassment. What I don’t understand is the GLBT won last Tuesday night. Move on. I don’t care how close it was -you won. The proplem Mayor Seiler is facing is he keeps using “yes, I support civil unions-w/ benefits. Except there are no benefits w/ civil unions. This is something(marriage equlaity) that should go on the ballot, so its recongnized state wide. What Mayor Seiler should have stuck to is this is a policy decesion that should be mad by the entire state , not just Ft.lau. No, you give them(GLBT), your resume Mayor(gay adoptions etc). I think this whole issue some of you are now looking to bash Mayor Seiler. His vote is just another example to bash him. Fine he is not in support of gay marriage. So now you have people that have ran against Mayor Seiler, for instance Earl(bo-Bo Justice) Rynerson. So big Earl here couldn’t wait to send out his email blast to bash Mayor Seiler. One woudl ask -where was your big mouth last Tuesday night Earl?. See what I mean. Again, you won ‘LGBT” here in Ft.Lau. Why would you pursue in going after Mayor Seiler. Mayor jusy state you don’t support gay marriage. All this litany of what you did in Wilton Manors is not nessecary. YOu are doing yourself more harm than good. Bottom line he has done a very good job as mayor of Ft.Lau. Some of you think you can do a better job, than by all means run(Comm.Bruce Roberts/Comm.Romney Rogers take note). Unless above mentioned subjects play it save and give Mayor Seiler another three(3) years , time will tell. Just remember esp. Bruce Roberts “ships in a harbor our safe, but that is not what ships are built for”…..

  25. Sam The Sham says:


    I did not accuse you of too lengthy writing (this time), but now that you have brought it up, yes you are too wordy.

    There is a difference between getting your complete thought relayed and diarrhea of the mouth (or keyboard). There is a difference between informing and bloviating.

    Getting back to the subject at hand, in my premise it is not I that needs to show a “compelling state interest” but you. The state needs to show why I cannot marry anybody I want, including blood relatives. The state needs to show why I cannot enter into multiple marriages.

    You say that marrying blood relatives is contrary to public health. If you are concerned with children being born with congenital defects, I can assure you that no children will be born to a union with any of my male relatives. As far as children conceived with female relatives, the state has already declared that it is our right to abort any unborn baby we want. It is almost a sacred right to do so. In addition, if my relative or I were incapable of reproducing (for medical or age reasons) then all compelling state health interests would be moot. This is not even taking into account all the wonderful birth control methods modern science has wrought.

  26. Chaz Stevens says:

    So Angelo…

    If you are writing about public policy as a Commissioner, how come your City Attorney opined your comments aren’t public record, subject to FS 119?

  27. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I’ll make this short.

    The information I provided on same sex marriage mirrors language found in the most recent US Supreme Court and Federal Court of Appeals cases on the subject. You can use it, abuse it, refuse it, reuse it, chose it — all that’s your choice.

    Best wishes to you with it.


  28. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    You’re free to ask them again if you want.


  29. Chaz Stevens says:

    So does that mean they had a change of heart?

    No records before and now records?

    Sounds fucking fishy to me.

  30. Fed Up with Broward Corruption says:

    Holy Guacamole…I agree with Sam.

  31. Sam The Sham says:


    You will forgive me if I don’t rely on your interpretation of what the Supreme Court said or what any appeals court said.

    Since you initially responded to my premise in #21, I will ask you directly, do you agree or disagree with my premise?

    If your answer begins with any words other than “I agree” or “I disagree”, we will all know that you are just another tap dancing politician. Tell us what YOU think and leave the SCOTUS out of it.

  32. Sam Fields says:

    I find it ironic that at a time when the courts are expanding the rights of who can get married, people’s interest in getting married is declining.

  33. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    I can’t agree with your premise for the reasons provided.


  34. Sam The Sham says:

    Thought so.

  35. Genius says:

    Give Ahern credit he got Seiler of the front pages. Viva the Tea Party.

  36. Real Deal says:

    Examples of bizarre thinking:

    1. What do you think of this legal question, but let’s leave the law and the courts out of it because that might lead you to not agree with me.

    2. What do you think about not having oxygen in the air, but let’s leave biology and other science out of it because that might help you to disagree with my opinion.

    3. What do you think is the tallest mountain on earth, let’s leave the record books and all form of measurement out of it because I don’t want my guess to look stupid.