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Mayors Call for Freedom to Marry

By Laura DeKoven Waxman
January 30, 2012

"I'm very happy to be standing here today with my fellow mayors, but I signed onto this fight a very long time ago." Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker said during a January 20 press conference of mayors in support of freedom to marry. "On Monday, my life partner and I celebrated 21 years together," Parker continued. She described the three children which they have adopted and the difficulties they had in doing so. "One simple change would have made a tremendous difference in the lives of my family and truly the live of millions of Americans, and that is access to the rights and privileges of marriage," Parker said.

Parker continued, explaining why freedom to marry is important to cities and to the nation as a whole: "Marriages cement families, families build neighborhoods; strong neighborhoods create strong communities; strong communities make strong cities, and cities are the backbone of America. By standing up for the freedom to marry, by standing up for my family, by telling my family and my kids that they are not second class Americans, we can build a stronger America for all of us."

Parker was one of more than 80 mayors who have joined together in Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, part of a federal campaign to expand public support for ending marriage discrimination sponsored up by the organization Freedom to Marry. A full list of mayors who have joined the effort is available at

Others participating in the press conference included Conference of Mayors President and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Conference of Mayors Vice President and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Conference of Mayors Past President and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, and Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon.

Among their comments:

Villaraigosa: "If we truly believe in family values, we should value all families. Denying gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry weakens society by hurting our communities, neighbors, and families. We hope other mayors will sign the pledge and join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry."

Bloomberg: "In only a season, the freedom to marry has already made New York a stronger state. This isn't about partisanship or ideology. It's about extending the freedoms of our country to all people, and ensuring equal protection under the law. Mayors understand that welcoming committed gay couples to the rights and responsibilities of marriage isn't just the right thing to do. It's also the smart thing to do for the diverse, dynamic, forward-looking cities we're all working to build."

Sanders: "Allowing loving and committed couples to join in marriage has benefits not just for couples and their familiesóbut also for society. Marriage encourages people to take responsibility for each other, provides greater security for children, and helps our country live up to the promises set forth in our founding documents. These are important values for a strong society, and we should encourage them."

Menino: "Cities that cultivate diversity are places where creativity and innovation thrive. We've now had the freedom to marry in Boston for almost eight years. Since then We've seen more same'sex couples move to the city, and with that economic development, urban revitalization, and a spirit of pride and progress that are hallmarks of Boston."

Cochran: "Building on our long track record on civil rights, The U.S Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution in 1984 calling for the legal protection of gay and lesbian rights at all levels of government and one in 2009 calling for marriage equality for same'sex couples. Our support is unwavering."

Solomon: "A majority of Americans now support the freedom to marry for loving, committed gay and lesbian couples, according to multiple reputable national polls. Many Americans who for decades opposed the freedom to marry for same'sex couples are rethinking their position, and hearts and minds are changing."