Gay Marriage Support Might Be Getting Shot Down by Fort Lauderdale Commissioners

A City Fort Lauderdale measure asking commissioners to openly support marriage equality and gay rights is in danger of not having enough votes to pass Tuesday.

The measure, sponsored by openly gay Commissioner Dean Trantalis, is nonbinding. However, it would speak loudly for city officials to openly support marriage equality -- particularly officials who serve a city densely populated by the LGBT community.

Still, with the vote happening at 6 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale City Hall, gay activists are looking at the real possibility that the resolution won't get the votes.

Michael Rajner, a gay rights activist, sent out an email predicting that the resolution will go down in a 3-2 defeat.

"I spoke with Mayor Seiler, who is opposed to the resolution and stated that he will be voting against the item," Rainer's email says. "I also spoke with Commissioner Bobby DuBose, who would not articulate his position but voiced an objection to the resolution as being too controversial."

Rajner goes on to say, "I hope the Fort Lauderdale City Commission does the right thing tonight, but based on my conversations, in addition to Commissioner Trantalis, the only possible votes to support the resolution would be Commissioners Bruce Roberts and Bobby DuBose. But I fear the resolution may very likely fail with a 2 to 3 vote."

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale resident Richard Cameron, founder of Broadway Global, took to Facebook to urge friends and supporters of marriage equality and gay rights to show up at City Hall to voice their opinions toward the commissioners opposed to the resolution.

Along with asking commissioners to support gay rights, Trantalis' resolution is asking Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to make gay marriage in Florida legal.

Trantalis' aim is to simply get his fellow commissioners' support on the record.

"Marriage equality is more about equality than it is about marriage," he told the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. "People talk about civil unions, but you cannot tap into federal benefits under a civil unions law. This is about civil rights. The resolution simply supports marriage equality. It shows that [gays] are not second-class citizens."

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. Federal courts continue to overturn various state prohibitions on same-sex marriage, determining them to be unconstitutional. Lawsuits are pending to overturn the ban in Florida.

Last August, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS ruled that it would recognize joint tax returns of gay married couples in Florida. This means that Florida residents are able to get married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal and receive federal benefits once they come back home.

But the state still doesn't recognize their marriages, and any gay couple that wants the benefits married couples receive needs to go through the trouble of traveling elsewhere to get hitched.

Since gay marriage was made illegal in Florida in 2008, voters have dialed down their antigay marriage stance. Last March, a Public Policy Poll said 75 percent of Florida voters now support gay marriage.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph