Orlando – When she delivers the State of the County address on June 6, local LGBT activists are asking Mayor Teresa Jacobs to put a ring on it.
Attorney Mary Meeks and transgender educator Gina Duncan both spoke at the June 3 Orange County Commission meeting, imploring Jacobs to openly and publicly state her support for marriage equality.
“All across our great nation, states are doing the right thing, ensuring that they are on the right side of history in legalizing same-sex marriage,” Duncan said in her address. “There is a nationwide groundswell and bipartisan support for marriage equality evidenced by amicus briefs being filed by mayors from small towns to larger cities.”
Both speakers referenced Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who stated his support for marriage equality in his 2014 State of the City address.
“Diversity is our greatest strength and a vibrant, welcoming community attracts the kind of industries and talent our cities need. That’s why we were one of the first cities in Florida to adopt a domestic partner registry, and now we have more than 1,200 couples registered,” Dyer said on April 10. “I hope that one day we are the city that hosts the state’s first same-sex wedding. Love and commitment should be encouraged, and it should be celebrated and it should be embraced as a constitutional right for all.”
Duncan also pointed out that June is a timely time for Jacobs to make a similar announcement.
“It’s Gay Pride month and provides a timely backdrop to take a stand and make a difference,” Duncan said. “As our county mayor, upcoming for another term, and serving all citizens of Orange County, the LGBT community would like to know that you stand with us on this important issue. With your state of the county address on Friday, we hope that you will make a clear statement that you also stand on the right side of history where all couples across this great state and in this great county can receive the rights and protections under the sacred vow of marriage.”
Meeks is an Orlando attorney who is a member of the legal team fighting to legalize same-sex marriage, through a lawsuit on behalf of six South Florida same-sex couples and the Equality Florida Institute challenging that Florida laws banning marriage equality are unconstitutional.
“Work remains here in Florida where our state refuses any recognition or rights whatsoever for an LGBT citizen,” Meeks said in her address to the commission. “We are here to ask you, Mayor, to use your voice now to support us in our quest. We ask for your personal support as Mayor Dyer did in his state of the City speech and we ask for your official support of our lawsuit.”
Meeks also requested Jacobs file an amicus brief.
“Mayor Jacobs, your voice can help to change hearts and minds, and can help to change those laws, too,” she said. “And so we ask you now, to stand up, speak out, support us. We ask you to state for us and to us explicitly that you support marriage equality for your gay and lesbian citizens.”