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U.S. Conference of Mayors Endorses Marriage Equality

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Jun 18, 2009
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The U.S. Conference of Mayors, which in 1984 called for legal protections of GLBT Americans from the federal level on down, has now adopted a resolution supporting the right of gay and lesbian families throughout the country to marry.

The resolution, posted at the Web site for Freedom to Marry, noted that in the wake of that resolution and others like it, cities across the country had taken up legislation to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination and bias crimes, and noted that marriage equality had garnered supportive actions from a number of mayors, including San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, who issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004.

Those marriages were later declared in valid by the state’s Supreme Court, which then in 2008 struck down anti-gay laws barring marriage equality, effectively making marriage for gays and lesbians legal in that state.

Six months later, California voters narrowly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution denying marriage to any but heterosexual couples.

Nonetheless, noting that, "The U.S. Conference of Mayors has a long record of leadership in advancing civil rights and equality for all," the body endorsed a number of measures that have been before federal lawmakers from some time, including the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA); the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which bans openly gay servicemembers; the Uniting American Families Act, which would extend the same sponsorship privileges to same-sex couples of mixed nationality that heterosexual couples currently enjoy; and the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would offer bias crime protections to LGBT Americans at the federal level.

At the moment, no federal protections or rights exist for gays and lesbians, and a 1996 law, the Defense of Marriage Act, bars the federal government from acknowledging the legal status of married gay and lesbian families.

The resolution addressed marriage equality also, reading, "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. conference of Mayors supports marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions."

The resolution was submitted by three mayors: West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, and openly gay Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

The 77th edition of the annual meeting convened June 12 in Rhode Island, lasting over the weekend until June 15. Major topics of discussion were the economic downturn and its effects on cities, gun violence, and energy concerns, reported a June 12 Associated Press article carried by the Washington Post.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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