Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Mike
Bloomberg of New York City and Jerry Sanders of San Diego are among
70 mayors pledging to support gay marriage.
The mayors will announce the launch of
Mayors for the Freedom to Marry at a press conference on Friday,
January 20 during the U.S. Conference of Mayors, their annual
Washington D.C. gathering.
Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is
backed by Freedom to Marry, one of the nation's largest groups
working to win marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.
“By joining the group, mayors hope to
expand public and political support for ending the exclusion of
same-sex couples from marriage,” the group said in a statement.
Mayors for the Freedom to Marry will be
co-chaired by Mayors Sanders, Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio
Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.
Sanders, a Republican, provided
emotional testimony during the second week of the trial that found
California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, unconstitutional. He
testified that he once opposed marriage equality. In 2007, he was
prepared to veto a San Diego City Council-approved resolution calling
on the city to file an amicus brief in support of a San Francisco
legal challenge. Instead, with his wife by his side, Sanders held a
tearful press conference and told reporters: “I have close family
members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community.
Those folks include my daughter Lisa.”
Also involved in the campaign are
Mayors Annise Parker of Houston and Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma.