Orlando – Despite a push from local LGBT activists, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs did not come out in favor of marriage equality during her 2014 State of the County Address.
Jacobs spoke to a crowd of politicians, media, Orange County employees and citizens at The Ballroom at Church Street, keeping with her theme of “The Year of Transformation,” as she highlighted a variety of accomplishments over the last year.
During the June 6 speech, Jacobs mentioned diversity and inclusiveness, but did not speak specifically to LGBT issues or equality. Jacobs talked about how the variety of cultures and differences has helped transform businesses and different sectors of the county, then repeated that section in Spanish.
Watermark questioned Jacobs after the address about what the “transformation” and “change” she spoke of means for the LGBT community. Jacobs replied that Orange County has done as much possible for the LGBT community, just like many other local governments in Florida have with their limited power.
“One of my first initiatives, you may recall, was providing domestic partner benefits for employees of Orange County that were in domestic partner relationships, and then expanding the partnership registry that the City of Orlando had countywide,” Jacobs said.
At a County Commission meeting June 3, LGBT activists Mary Meeks and Gina Duncan urged Jacobs to use the State of the County Address to openly and directly state her support for marriage equality, as Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer did in his April 10 State of the City Address. Jacobs did not directly state anything about marriage equality, but when questioned after the address, mentioned that as a local official there was not much she could do.
“As far as marriage equality, that is not a local government issue, it is not something as Mayor of Orange County that I can impact,” Jacobs said. “It is something that is a state and federal issue, so we are watching that very closely to see what evolves from that.”