by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Freedom to Marry announced February 29 that in less than six weeks, its Mayors for the Freedom to Marry campaign has more than doubled from 80 to 175 participating mayors. In addition, Freedom to Marry released a video of 13 mayors talking about why they've joined the campaign and why marriage matters. The group also announced a partnership with Change.org that will assist constituents in urging their own mayors to sign on and speak out.
'America's mayors know that loving and committed Gay and Lesbian couples contribute to the lives of their cities every day, and that stronger families mean stronger businesses, stronger communities, and a stronger country for all,' said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. 'Mayors for the Freedom to Marry has had a tremendous response from citizens and mayors from every part of the country, and by partnering with Change.org we will spur additional grassroots organizing and grow the momentum for marriage nationwide. Mayors are happy to hear from their constituents, and Freedom to Marry knows that the more conversations about ending marriage discrimination, the sooner we'll get the job done.'
According to Freedom to Marry officials, since the January 20 launch of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, 'constituents from towns and cities across the nation have been reaching out to their mayors through Freedom to Marry's Change.org petitions, phone calls, letters and emails, social networking sites, and other organizing tools.'
In South Florida, the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce reached out to mayors at their first annual State of Our Community luncheon, garnering an immediate sign-on from the mayor of Miami Beach, said officials. In Sacramento, marriage supporters delivered hundreds of signatures to Mayor Kevin Johnson on Valentine's Day. Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH, signed on after hearing from more than 1,000 constituents through a grassroots campaign launched in coordination with Change.org and Equality Ohio. The effort has enlisted mayors from Georgia to Texas, Utah to Alaska, Florida to Maine.
The Freedom to Marry's mayors' video, released February 29, includes chairs Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, and Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, in addition to co-chairs including Mayor Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma, WA; Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, CT; Mayor Sam Adams of Portland, OR; Mayor Setti Warren of Newtown, MA; Mayor Jeffrey Slavin of Somerset, MD; Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, CA; Mayor Laura Friedman of Glendale, CA; Mayor Stephen Cassidy of San Leandro, CA; Mayor John Callahan of Bethlehem, PA; and Mayor Craig Cates of Key West, FL.
'The compilation is the first in a series that Freedom to Marry will release of mayors talking about why marriage matters, and why they support ending marriage discrimination,' reports officials.
In addition to his role as chair of this effort, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was named chair of the Democratic National Convention shortly after Freedom to Marry launched Democrats: Say I Do. The Say I Do campaign urges the Democratic Party to include a plank supporting the freedom to marry for Gay and Lesbian couples in the national 2012 platform, and has been endorsed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Obama Campaign co-chairs Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Executive Director of Young Democrats for America Emily Sussman, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and more than 25,000 voters.
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