While many Broward pols celebrated the start of gay marriage this week, one key Democratic politician was quiet: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler.
A former Wilton Manors mayor and state representative, Seiler is a rare breed for a Broward Democratic politician: he has attempted to sit on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate. A married Catholic father, with four children, Seiler told the Miami Herald in 2013 that he had no position on the issue but supported civil unions and domestic partner benefits for city employees. In June, Seiler voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage.
The Miami Herald asked Seiler for his position in the wake of same-sex couples now being allowed to wed in Florida.
“The City does not regulate -- and has never regulated -- marriage. In fact, as I repeatedly pointed out, the City does not have, and did not have, any authority over marriage or marriage rights,” Seiler wrote in an email Monday night.
“Further, as I also stated numerous times, the marriage issue would and should be resolved at the State level (where it is regulated), at the Federal level (where it can be regulated), or in the Courts. In this instance, the Courts have ruled, and the rulings have been consistently and overwhelmingly in support of same-sex marriage. As such, the Courts have now resolved the marriage issue.
As a City, we will absolutely and unconditionally treat all marriages as equal, and, where applicable, we will update our codes, ordinances, and laws to implement and enforce marriage equality. As to any newlyweds, we extend our best wishes for many joyous years of good health, happiness, and love.”
Seiler, who has never lost a race since he first ran in Wilton Manors in the 1990s, has qualified to run for re-election in February. (The city’s qualifying period for mayoral candidates ends Jan. 9th. The city’s website does not show who has qualified but we haven’t heard of anyone planning to challenge Seiler. Technically the race is nonpartisan.)
Seiler is one of a few big-city Democratic mayors who have been mentioned as possible future statewide candidates. Again, his position on marriage puts him at odds in that camp, too.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, also a Catholic Democrat, came out in support of same sex marriage in September, which was somewhat of a change of position.
When President Obama announced his support for gay marriage in 2012, Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times “I'm not sure I'm entirely there yet," though he was on that path.
Buckhorn told the Times in September after he announced his new stance that his position as mayor "will put me at odds with some of the teachings of the Catholic Church," but "my faith and my job are two separate things."
On Tuesday, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer hosted a wedding ceremony for 44 couples at City Hall Tuesday.