U.S. Mayors Form Pro-Marriage Equality Group
During the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, more than 80 mayors from across the country—including mayors of the country’s four largest cities—joined together to declare their support for same-sex marriage.
The bipartisan group, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, hopes to pressure legislators to legalize gay marriage and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Five mayors gave a press conference last week to unveil the new group: Annise Parker of Houston (who made history in 2010 as the first openly gay elected mayor of a major U.S. city), Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Thomas Menino of Boston, Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, Wash., and Jerry Sanders of San Diego, a Republican who became a supporter of gay marriage in 2007 on behalf of his lesbian daughter.
Other mayors who have joined the group include Michael Bloomberg of New York, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Vincent Gray of Washington, DC, and the mayors of ten state capitals. Mayors who have not signed the group’s pledge are encouraged to do so—and the web site exhorts citizens to confront their mayors with the pledge.
Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is an offshoot of the national organization Freedom to Marry, which has advocated for marriage equality in individual states and pushes for an end to the Defense of Marriage Act.
“Marriage is on the march in towns and cities across the nation and these mayors will play an important role in advancing the cause,” said Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon in a statement.
The mayors have also signed a pledge to push cities to pass marriage equality laws; while these ordinances wouldn’t trump state laws against same-sex marriage, they could exert further pressure on state legislators to allow gay couples to marry.
The Conference of Mayors already endorses same-sex marriage rights as an organization; in 2009, the conference issued a statement in support of marriage equality and non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation. But the formation of this advocacy group is a logical next step: A band of mayors, speaking up for same-sex marriage from the experience that comes with running their diverse cities.
Shay O'Reilly is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @shaygabriel.