Waveland Mayor David Garcia has announced his support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, making him the first Mississippi mayor to back such unions.

“As mayor of the city of Waveland, Mississippi, I understand that the strength and health of our cities are enhanced when all families are protected and supported,” Garcia said in a statement. “We know many people in loving and committed same-sex relationships who are active participants in improving our communities and we've seen how important marriage has been for them and their families. Because I believe in fairness for all American families, I support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples willing to take on that commitment.”

Garcia is a member of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a project of Freedom to Marry.

“More same-sex couples are raising children in Mississippi than in any other state, and these children need the legal protections and respect for their families that marriage provides just as much as any other kids,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “Waveland Mayor Garcia is standing up for these kids and these families, and for the basic principle that government should not be denying any Mississippians the freedom to marry the person they love. His leadership adds yet another Southern voice to the call for freedom to marry nationwide. Like the rest of America, Mississippi is on a journey toward liberty and justice for all. Where you live in America shouldn't determine how much equality you have under the law.”