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Mayors Commit to Bring Marriage Equality to Cities 

Mayors Commit to Bring Marriage Equality to Cities 

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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.

They pledged 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 of Philadelphia.

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 families."

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 fair enough."

"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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