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Good morning Mayor Seiler:

Good morning Mayor Seiler:

      I’m writing to express my concern, shared by many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, with the upcoming Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast featuring a keynote address by the anti-LGBT organization Focus on the Family.

While I strongly support an individual’s freedom of religion, and the right of all people to peacefully and safely assemble to worship their faith, I’m struggling with Church United’s misguided, implied understanding of diversity in their advertisement which does not affirmatively include representation from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of Christian faith, or people other faiths.

In the promotion of the upcoming Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, the organizers acknowledge division, yet exploited the LGBT community. In Good News Florida, they highlight FOTF’s collaboration on legislation relating to human trafficking, a serious and worthy issue. However, they fail to acknowledge FOTF’s core objection to an individual’s identity as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender or the fact that they feel you can pray away the gay to live a life for which they affirm.

I highly doubt Church United reached out to LGBT affirming publications to promote the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. http://goodnewsfl.org/focus-familys-jim-daly-speak-mayors-prayer-breakfast-april/ 

If Church United truly desires this Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast to be welcoming of the LGBT-community, they should have considered to include an LGBT-identifying faith leader to be included in their program, especially if they believe Focus on the Family can work with the LGBT community.  While you’re not the organizer of the breakfast, you certain could recommend they include Reverend Leslie

Rutland-Tipton of Church of the Holy Spirit Spong, an evangelical Christian pastor who identifies as a lesbian and a veteran.

As its been explained by many people, in the numerous emails you’ve received, and responded to, among other positions in opposition to LGBT-equality, Focus on Family believes in conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, or sexual orientation conversion therapy – a dangerous practice that purports to change a person’s sexual orientation, literally “converting” them from gay to straight.

Below is link from Southern Law & Poverty on conversion therapy: https://www.splcenter.org/issues/lgbt-rights/conversion-therapy You’ve responded to people noting, “…you will know that my remarks are always inclusive, respectful, and welcoming to all faiths and all attendees.” My question is will you actually discuss the very controversy between Focus on the Family and the LGBT community that Church United saw fit to promote as part of this breakfast?

Mayor Seiler, I realize you are not the organizer, despite the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast being promoted with your name, with your image, your attendance and speaking role.

There is an implied endorsement with it bearing your name and so forth, so regardless of you having any formal role in organizing the breakfast, the LGBT community is turning to you for leadership to reject Focus on the Family’s anti-LGBT agenda and efforts of preying on the LGBT community and to affirmatively enunciate the importance of LGBT equality in your remarks that morning.

Along with many other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, it is difficult for us to believe this prayerful group with their keynote invitation of anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family actually embraces the very same diversity we celebrate in Broward County.

Focus on the Family actively advocates against: marriage equality, LGBT couples adopting children, LGBT civil rights protections and more.  They oppose the right for same sex married couples such as my friends Ed and Pedro, Fort Lauderdale residents in Commissioner Romney Rogers’ district, to be a committed, loving, marriage and who are raising two beautiful children.

Ironically, Ed previously lived on your block in Wilton Manors just a few houses from your home.  He would be happy to meet with you to share his thoughts on how Focus on the Family’s anti-LGBT agenda harms his family’s ability to thrive just like any other family.

As mayor, you are an elected voice of leadership for all people, and over the years, we’ve worked together on some issues, and I’m grateful for those opportunities.

However, since your steadfast vote against marriage equality in 2014, you have stated that you voted based on your faith.  And while I respect you faith, I reject your imposing your having imposed your faith in that vote and relegating LGBT people to second class status citizens.

Most recently you spoke with the Sun Sentinel about your possible run for Florida attorney general.  I must say, many of us in the LGBT community, and the local Democratic Party have grave concerns with how as attorney general you might opine on the rights of LGBT people and the push by right-wing conservative groups to abuse religious freedom and liberty to justify discriminatory acts against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

This past Saturday, there was a respectful discussion of this very issue as the Broward Democratic Party’s Management Committee and on this Wednesday, another discussion will be raised at the Dolphin Democrats.

In Fort Lauderdale, city ordinance is void of any city protections for sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.  While sexual orientation is included in the city manager’s policy manual, it fails to even reference protections in the Broward County Human Rights Act which Vice Mayor Dean Trantalis helped enact.

This year, many cities feared the Florida Legislature’s misguided attempt to strip local jurisdictions of home rule authority, this would have significantly diminished the gains made at the local level to ensure for some level of non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community in employment, housing and public accommodation.

It’s believed by many that a city as large as Fort Lauderdale should have these protections layered in city ordinance to formally affirm the city’s understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Mayor, I’m would be more than open to meet with you to discuss this matter and truly hope you can appreciate the concerns expressed to you by many in the LGBT community.  I have spoken with mainstream faith leaders, other elected officials who also share these concerns.  I have read many responses you have written, and I unfortunately don’t read that you understand the severity of the concerns nor have I read whether you object to conversion therapy.  One way to affirm your

objection could be introducing an ordinance, as done in other cities, to outlaw the practice of conversion therapy on minors.  There are several cities in South Florida which have done this, so the model for you already exists.

 

Respectfully, Michael Emanuel Rajner, BSW

 

 

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    About The Author

    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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