16 current and former Broward mayors support same-sex marriage

Sun Sentinel

The ranks of “Mayors for Freedom to Marry,” which supports same-sex marriage, have been growing.

It includes 358 mayors from around the country. Just over a year ago, there were 178 mayors on the list.

A total of 20 Broward and Palm Beach County names are on the list, up from five in March 2012.

Two weeks ago, Tamarac Mayor Beth Talabisco became the 20th in South Florida to sign on.

Another supporter is Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed.

Both mayors represent cities with large population blocs of voters that polling shows are the least supportive of same-sex marriage. In Talabisco's city, 28 percent of the population is 65 or older, compared with 17 percent statewide. And 55 percent of Pembroke Park's population is black, compared with Florida's 16 percent.

Neither Talabisco nor Mohammed has received any negative feedback. Talabisco said no one on the Tamarac commission objected. Mohammed said her town’s commission unanimously supported her move.

"I think more people are becoming more enlightened," Talabisco said. "In a world that's so topsy-turvy, if at the end of the day two people find solace and comfort in each other, well then it's a good thing."

Mohammed said she thinks seniors and the African-American community are becoming more supportive of same-sex marriage. "It's definitely changing. Everyone's more accepting," she said. "It's very important for everyone to have the same rights afforded to them. It wasn't so long ago that blacks and whites couldn't marry."

The list includes the mayor of the county’s second largest city, Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, as well as Mohammed, whose town is one of the county’s smallest municipalities.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, whose city has neighborhoods with many gay and lesbian residents, has resisted entreaties from activists to support same-sex marriage.

"It doesn't matter what any mayor in the state of Florida does. There's a state constitutional ban," Seiler said in an interview with the Sun Sentinel last year. "We could spend hours and hours and hours debating this issue, and the end result is going to be the same.

 "I believe in treating people fairly. I believe in treating people respectfully," he said. "As far as gay marriage, I haven't spent that much time on that. I believe in civil unions."

Seiler reiterated the same position to the Miami Herald earlier this month.

Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said activists in his county have been occupied with other gay rights issues and haven't made the same kind of push to line up mayors’ support.

Hoch credited Tim Ross, president of the Dolphin Democrats gay and lesbian political club for extensive efforts to persuade Broward’s mayors.

Some of the 20 South Florida mayoral supporters no longer carry the title mayor. One was defeated, while others left office because of term limits, a retirement, or rotated to commissioner roles late in 2012 or early this year. They’re marked with an asterisk (*).

Here’s the list, according to the mayor’s group:

Peter Bober, Hollywood.

 Joy Cooper, Hallandale Beach.

 Pam Donovan, Margate .*

 Debby Eisinger, Cooper City.*

 Marilyn Gerber, Coconut Creek*

 Kristin Jacobs, Broward County.

 Richard Kaplan, Lauderhill.

 David Levy, Palm Beach Gardens.*

 Ashira Mohammed, Pembroke Park.

 Lori Moseley, Miramar.

 Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach.

 Frank Ortis, Pembroke Pines.

 Judy Paul, Davie.

 Gary Resnick, Wilton Manors.

 Mike Ryan, Sunrise.

 Anne Sallee, Oakland Park. *

 J.P. Sasser, Pahokee. *

 Beth Talabisco, Tamarac.

 Pam Triolo, Lake Worth.

 Michael Udine, Parkland.

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