After pondering for weeks, Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki has added her name to a list of approximately 450 mayors nationwide who support "Freedom to Marry," an initiative in support of same-sex marriages.
It was simply the right thing to do, Sawicki said in a telephone interview late Tuesday.
"I thought long and hard about it; it's probably been two months," Sawicki said. "To me, this is just about human rights."
That means being afforded the same legal rights as other couples, she said.
"I am for people's rights, civil rights," Sawicki said. "For me, I don't have an issue with the GLBT community, I support them and I don't have an issue with gay marriage; I think it's about people's right."
She was asked if she expects any backlash as Lee County is largely conservative.
"Oh, yeah," she said, and laughed.
But reaction is not likely to be all negative.
"I believe we are a very tolerant city," Sawicki said.
She added placing her name on the list of mayors in support was a personal choice and it does not represent the position of either the city or the city council.
"As a mayor, it (her name) can have an impact," she said. "I'm not looking to be a crusader but I did feel obligated."
Other members of council may have an opportunity to weigh in in a couple of weeks as a petition to create a "domestic registry" will be brought forward from the public.
Sawicki said that likely will be presented by its supporters at the Cape Coral City Council meeting to be held July 28.
Other mayors whose names have been added to the initiative include Sam Henderson of Gulfport, and Claire Schubert of Hillsboro Beach, according to a release issued by Southerners for the Freedom to Marry in partnership with Equality Florida on Tuesday.
There are now 35 mayors in Florida, including four Republicans, on the list, the release states, adding "Florida has the highest number of supportive mayors in the states where gay couples are still banned from marrying."
"Americans have come to understand that it is wrong to exclude loving, committed gay couples from marriage and a stunning 57% of Floridians agree," said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, in the release. "Florida mayors are making the case that ending marriage discrimination is the right thing for America, for their communities, for business and the economy, and for the tens of thousands of same-sex couples who call Florida home. Marriage strengthens families and communities, and it's time to end marriage discrimination in Florida, and in America, once and for all."
According to the release, "A supermajority of Americans (59%) support the freedom to marry, including a majority of young evangelicals and Republicans under 45. Gay couples can currently marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia."
According to the organization, other Florida mayors who support the freedom to marry include: Buddy Dyerof Orlando, Craig Cates of Key West, Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg, Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, Jeri Muoio of West Palm Beach, Harry Dressler of Tamarac, Philip Levine of Miami Beach, Lisa Aronson of Coconut Creek, Peter Bober of Hollywood, Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach, David Coviello of Biscayne Park, Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill, Shari McCartney of Oakland Park, Russ Barley of Freeport, Sue Lynn of Anna Maria, Daniel Dietch of Surfside, Lesa Peerman of Margate, Pat Gerard of Largo, Connie Leon Kreps of North Bay Village, Teresa Zemaitis of Kenneth City, Rob Downey of Melbourne Village, Phillip K. Stoddard of South Miami, Ashira Mohammed of Pembroke Park, Lori Moseley of Miramar, Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, Judy Paul of Davie, Gary Resnick of Wilton Manors, Michael Ryan of Sunrise, Barbara Sharief of Broward County, Pam Trioloof of Lake Worth, and Michael Udine of Parkland.