At the 80th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors a few weeks ago, five mayors (including New York's Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa, among others) launched the Freedom to Marry initiative, a nonpartisan group of U.S. mayors who back the belief "that all people should be able to share in the love and commitment of marriage," according to its statement.
"We are honored to lead this bipartisan group of mayors who support ending marriage discrimination at all levels of government" the statement continued. "While we will each have different strategies for pursuing that end, we all agree on the goal: securing the freedom to marry and upholding equal rights for all citizens."
Freedom to Marry's signatories include more than 80 mayors representing more than 20 states and Washington, D.C., including two dozen from California and six from Florida. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu attended the January conference, but he didn't sign the statement. Landrieu spokesperson Ryan Berni said the mayor supports civil unions, but he didn't elaborate on whether Landrieu would sign the statement. Louisiana's state Constitution doesn't recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions and defines marriage as "the union of one man and one woman."
Meanwhile, five Texas mayors added their names, including Austin's Lee Leffingwell and Houston's Annise Parker, who co-chairs the Freedom to Marry committee. Demonstrators in Dallas urged Mayor Mike Rawlings to sign the pledge, but he refused. — Alex Woodward