Having strong allies and leaders in Texas helps move the national conversation about equality in the right direction and I'm happy to include Mayor Leffingwell's statement below.
MAYOR LEE LEFFINGWELL SIGNS FREEDOM TO MARRY PLEDGE FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES
AUSTIN - Mayor Lee Leffingwell has today joined dozens of mayors from across America in supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry by signing on to the Mayors for Freedom to Marry Pledge. The Mayors Freedom to Marry group - an effort of the national Freedom to Marry organization - aims to expand public and political support for ending discrimination in marriage.
"I'm proud to stand with the gay and lesbian community and defend their right to equal marriage," said Mayor Leffingwell. "The tide is changing in America and I hope that by joining this loud chorus, I can play a small role in helping set us on a path to full marriage equality in our country in my lifetime."
Other big city mayors to sign the pledge include Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Michael Bloomberg of New York, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Thomas Menino of Boston. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, is the only other Texas mayor on the list.
Community leaders in Austin applauded Mayor Leffingwell's decision to join the coalition.
"As the first openly gay person elected to serve on the Austin City Council, I am especially appreciative of Mayor Leffingwell's leadership on this issue," said former Council Member Randi Shade. "Mayor Leffingwell recognizes the importance of achieving marriage equality and is willing to fight for it."
"Mayor Leffingwell is to be commended for his pro-equality stance with regard to the Freedom to Marry initiative," said Rich Bailey, President of the Stonewall Democrats of Austin. "For too long we have seen the LGBT community used as a wedge issue in politics and it is refreshing, but not unexpected, for the Mayor to be supportive of the right of all consenting adults to enter into marriage."
"This is a very important step in the path to equality," said Anne Wynn, Founder of Atticus Circle. "I started Atticus Circle in 2004 in response to the trend of states constitutionally prohibiting same-gender couples from marrying and I am so happy to see my hometown standing up to achieve equality for every parent and every partnership."
"I appreciate Mayor Leffingwell's endorsement of this petition along with other U.S. mayors," said community activist Celia Israel. "It is yet another reason for all of us - not just GLBT Austinites - to be proud of our city."
"Mayor Leffingwell echoes the values and beliefs of Austinites - that ALL men and women are created equal," said Eugene Sepulveda, former co-chair of President Obama's GLBT Leadership Council.
"I've always known Austin to be a community of respect and I am glad to see our Mayor taking the lead on this issue," said Karen Gross, Austin Community Director for the Anti-Defamation League. "I hope other Texas mayors will follow suit and join this important effort."
"Public support for marriage equality has grown in leaps and bounds in this country over the past few decades and too often, politicians refuse to catch up with the times," said Karl-Thomas Musselman, publisher of the Burnt Orange Report. "Mayor Leffingwell is instead reflecting Austin's values by rejecting discrimination and embracing our entire community."