Rahm Emanuel among 70 mayors calling for marriage equality

Wed. January 18, 2012 1:01 PM by Brett Anthony

mayor rahm emanuel at center on halsted, jan. 2011

photo credit // anthony meade

Big city mayors pledge organized effort to support full marriage equality

Washington, D.C. - Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is among 70 mayors, including one Republican, pledging to support same-sex marriage rights.

The group, which includes Emanuel, Mike Bloomberg of New York City and Republican Jerry Sanders of San Diego, will announce the launch of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 20 during the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual gathering in Washington, D.C.

"The bipartisan panel of mayors from every corner of the country standing
up in support of marriage equality just underscores the strength of the
movement," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois (EQIL).

Each mayor has pledged an organized effort to support full marriage equality while opposing discrimination in the federal and state constitution.

"By joining the group, mayors hope to expand public and political support for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage," the mayors' group said in a statement.

Locally, EQIL has taken the lead in the joint effort to sign on Emanuel and Mayors Elizabeth Tisdahl of Evanston and Robert Sabonjian of Waukegan as early supporters of the campaign. EQIL says more mayors from across the state have expressed interest.  

"It has been said that all politics is local, and nothing proves that point more than local mayors speaking out in favor of equality as a way to influence the conversation at the state and federal levels to make marriage equality a priority," said Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy for EQIL.

During a campaign press conference last January at the Center on Halsted, Emanuel signaled his support for marriage equality.

"In the debate for civil unions, though I wasn't an office holder, I made phone calls," said Emanuel. "I look forward to making phone calls on the issue of marriage."

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry will be co-chaired by Sanders, Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

According to Freedom to Marry, other mayors planning to attend Friday's news conferences include Annise Parker of Houston and Marilyn Stickland of Tacoma, Washington.

The group's position on marriage equality could put increased pressure on President Barack Obama when it comes to same-sex marriage.