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January 27, 2012

Three Ohio mayors join effort for marriage equality

Washington, D.C.--Three Ohio mayors are among the over 100 city leaders participating in the group Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, which launched at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting on January 20.

The United States Conference of Mayors approved a position statement in favor of marriage equality in 2009, and now Michael Coleman of Columbus, Edward Kelley of Cleveland Heights and David Berger of Lima join Republican, Democratic and independent mayors from across the country in their support of Freedom to Marry, a national organization pressing for marriage equality.

Two other nearby mayors who have signed on to the effort are Paul Dyster in Niagara Falls, and Joe Sinnott of Erie, Pennsylvania.

The group is chaired by Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Thomas Menino of Boston, Annise Parker of Houston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa.

Bloomberg personally lobbied Republican state legislators in New York in favor of the state’s marriage equality bill, which passed last year. Dyster was the first mayor in the state to marry a same-sex couple, once the law took effect.

The chairs released a statement commemorating the creation of the coalition, stating, “As mayors of great American cities, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. We personally know many gay and lesbian people living in our cities who are in committed, loving relationships, who are active participants in the civic life of our communities, and who deserve to be able to marry the person with whom they share their life.”

“Our cities derive great strength from their diversity, and gay and lesbian families are a crucial part,” the statement continues. “Studies have shown what we know through our hands-on experience--that cities that celebrate and cultivate diversity are the places where creativity and ideas thrive. They are the place 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.”

In all, 27 states and the District of Columbia are represented by mayors joining the group. Of Ohio’s neighboring states, only Kentucky is not represented; West Virginia’s John Preece of Delbarton has joined, as have Mark Kruzan of Bloomington, Indiana  and several mayors in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Even far-off Alaska is represented by Mayor Bruce Botelho of Juneau, while Park City, Utah’s Mayor Dana Williams represents a state that functioned as the de facto headquarters of the effort to repeal marriage equality in California.

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