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Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
More than 80 mayors of U.S. cities, from 25 different states, have signed a pledge written by Freedom to Marry affirming their support for marriage equality. Members of the new coalition, known as "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry," spoke at a news conference on January 21, 2012 in Washington, D.C. They were in the capital to attend the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Members of the coalition include the mayors of many of the country's largest cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, and Portland.
The pledge emphasizes the economic benefits of marriage as well as the issue of fairness. "Studies have shown . . . that cities that celebrate and cultivate diversity are the places where creativity and ideas thrive," the pledge states. "They are the places where today's entrepreneurs are most likely to choose to build the businesses of tomorrow. Allowing same-sex couples the right to marry enhances our ability to build this kind of environment, which is good for all of us."
At the news conference on January 21, 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an Independent whose state last year legalized same-sex marriage, said that marriage should be valued by all Americans regardless of their political affiliation.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who two years ago became the first openly lesbian mayor of a major U.S. city, talked about her own life experience as a reason why same-sex marriage should be legalized.
Observing that she and her partner, Kathy Hubbard, recently celebrated their 21st anniversary, she noted that her family, which includes three adopted children, "had to navigate insurance challenges and custody challenges."
"One simple thing would have made tremendous difference in the lives of my family and, truly, the lives of millions of Americans, and that is access to the rights and privileges of marriage," Parker said.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, also evoked personal reasons for his support of marriage equality, remarking how the fact of his daughter's lesbianism turned him around on the issue. "Fairness means giving people the same rights and treating them the same as everyone else," Sanders said. "There's no such thing as fair enough; it's either fair, or it's not."
Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa said advocating for same-sex marriage is important because he has seen the harm that measures like Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act cause for families.
"I've often said in L.A. that it doesn't matter who your father is," Villaraigosa said. "In my case, it didn't matter that I didn't have one. And hopefully soon, it won't matter if you have two of them. Because if we truly believe in family values, then we should value all of our families."
Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston said that marriage equality has made his city a better place to live.
Mayor Marilyn Stickland of Tacoma, Washington used the opportunity to urge her senators to support the marriage equality bill that has recently been filed in the state of Washington.
Here is a video clip of the press conference.
Since the press conference, other mayors have joined the coalition. There are currently 101 mayors who have signed the pledge. A list of the mayors may be found here: Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.