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Dallas Mayor Joins Marriage Equality Supporters

Dallas Mayor Joins Marriage Equality Supporters

Dallasmayor

Mike Rawlings, previously reluctant to join the fight, banded with mayors from cities large and small in filing a pro-equality brief with the Supreme Court.

Among the amicus, or friend of the court briefs, that have been filed with the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality is one signed by more than 200 mayors -- and among them is one new to the cause, Dallas's Mike Rawlings.

Rawlings had previously said he personally supports marriage equality, but he has been reluctant to make a political stance on it, reports The Dallas Morning News.But he joined with 225 other mayors in signing the pro-equality brief, filed with the court Friday.

"I am speaking for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Dallas," Rawlings told the Morning News. "I wanted to make sure the Supreme Court knows that there is a mayor in Texas, and in one of the top 10 cities in the country, that feels that the city of Dallas will be better off" if bans on same-sex marriage are struck down.

Rawlings, who was elected mayor of Dallas in 2011, refused to join other mayors in endorsing marriage equality in 2012, and in 2013 he declined to back a Dallas City Council resolution supporting equal marriage rights, saying the symbolic resolution was a distraction, the Morning News notes.

He referred to that when discussing the amicus brief with the paper. "I am not a big fan of signing toothless pledges, because I don't find them very significant," he said. The amicus brief, however, is significant, he added.

He said he was motivated to speak out strongly for marriage equality because of his friendships with LGBT people. "This is a personal issue for me," Rawlings told the Morning News. "I have so many friends in the LGBT community and this is really a moment of truth for them and for me. I am so proud not only to be rooting for this case to succeed, but also to be actively petitioning the Supreme Court on their behalf." Rawlings, by the way, is a Democrat, but Dallas's elections are nonpartisan.

The brief points out that legal protections for same-sex couples and their children are important to the cities where they live. "Gay and lesbian couples live in all of our communities, where they raise children, support each other in sickness and in health, combine assets, buy homes and otherwise engage in all the indicia of marriage," it says. "The stability of these family units directly benefit municipalities." It also notes that some state bans on same-sex marriage are so broad that they interfere with cities' efforts to provide legal recognition or benefits for these couples.

Signatories to the brief include Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the National League of Cities as well as individual mayors. The latter list offers a who's who of big-city mayors, such as New York's Bill de Blasio, Los Angeles's Eric Garcetti, Chicago's Rahm Emanuel, Houston's Annise Parker, San Diego's Kevin Faulconer, Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, St. Louis's Francis Slay, and Denver's Michael B. Hancock, plus mayors of many small and medium-size municipalities.

The Supreme Court will hear a marriage equality case April 28, arising from a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. As for Rawlings's home state, the Texas marriage ban has been struck down by a U.S. District Court, and that decision is on hold while the state appeals it to the Fifth Circuit, which heard arguments in January but has yet to rule.


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