Mayors Commit to Bring Marriage Equality to Cities
BY Nick Visser
January 21 2012 12:07 AM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 80 mayors from across the country announced their
support for marriage equality
today, predicting that it would one day come to all of their cities.
their support as part of the launch of a new effort called Mayors for the
Freedom to Marry. Included are mayors of the five largest U.S. cities: Michael Bloomberg of New York, Antonio
Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago (who was not at the news
conference but signed the pledge), Annise Parker of Houston, and Michael Nutter
All of the mayors have signed a pledge to fight for marriage
equality and encourage other lawmakers to take up the cause.
After New York enacted marriage equality last year, Bloomberg
said the freedom to marry in the state has “only made New York stronger,” and
extending that right to all American citizens is only a matter of time.
“For me, the question is not if marriage equality will come
to all 50 states. The question is when, and with America’s mayors standing up
for what is right in their cities, I believe that day will come sooner than
most people think,” he said at the news conference, which was held during the
U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C..
Bloomberg said he would welcome President Obama speaking out
unequivocally on marriage equality. So far, Obama has said only that his views
on the issue are “evolving.”
Villaraigosa, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors,
emphasized the need to set aside partisan divisions, saying “the more support
we build in our cities and states, the stronger the case we can make for
extending the freedom to marry.”
“I’ve often said in L.A. that it doesn’t matter who your
father is ... and hopefully soon, it won’t matter if you have two of them,” he
said. “If we truly believe in family values, then we should value all
Parker, Houston’s first openly gay mayor, spoke of the
obstacles she’s had to navigate with her partner without the legal right to
marry. They have three adopted children, and she said they’ve had to face
discriminatory custody and insurance challenges.
“One simple change would have a tremendous difference in the
lives of my family and the lives of millions of Americans,” Parker said. “By
telling my family and my kids that they are not second-class Americans, you can
build a stronger America.”
Jerry Sanders, mayor of San Diego and a Republican member of
the coalition who testified during the Proposition 8 trial in 2010, said that
while he wasn’t always a supporter of marriage equality, his views have
shifted, and in regard to same-sex relationships, “there’s no such thing as
“I cannot look anyone in the face and tell them that their
relationship is any less meaningful than my marriage to my wife,” Sanders said.
Marilyn Strickland, mayor of Tacoma, Wash., said mainstream
support for marriage equality extends to the Pacific Northwest. Latest
tallies show only one vote separates a marriage equality bill from passage
in the state senate, which would make Washington the seventh state in the nation
to allow same-sex marriage, plus the District of Columbia. Strickland took time
at the beginning of her speech to look directly into cameras and ask state
senators wavering on the issue to “please stand up, please do the right thing,
and please pass marriage equality.”
“Everyone knows what it means when you tell them that you’re
married,” she said. “Being married is fun, it’s awesome. It’s something that
every American couple should have the chance to do.”
Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director,
said the coalition provided an opportunity to join together “passionate and tireless
advocates and champions for the freedom to marry.”
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