San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Thursday became a chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a group dedicated to increasing access to marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

“I am a strong supporter of marriage equality,” said Faulconer, a Republican. “I came to my decision after speaking with my fellow San Diegans about the importance of ensuring that everyone in love has access to the respect, dignity and protections offered by marriage. I value freedom, family, and individual liberty, and I'm proud to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry to continue making the case for marriage nationwide.”

The organization also announced that it has grown from 80 mayors in 2012 to 400 mayors representing 38 states and the District of Columbia.

“The values of freedom and family invoked by Mayor Faulconer in support of the freedom to marry are the values more and more Republicans are embracing as they move toward support as well,” Evan Wolfson, President of Freedom to Marry, said in an emailed statement. “Mayors have a crucial role in advancing the well-being of the families, businesses, and communities that they serve, including gay and lesbian Americans who want to take care of their family and make a lifelong commitment to the person they love.”

Faulconer joins fellow chairs Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Julian Castro of San Antonio, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Annise Parker of Houston, Greg Stanton of Phoenix and Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles.