A coalition of more than 100 mayors from cities across the nation have come out in support of marriage equality, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Nutter was among a dozen city leaders who took part in a press conference to announce the creation of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry last Friday in Washington, D.C.
The original group was about 80 strong but the effort gained the support of more mayors, who were taking part in the 80th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, over the weekend.
The issue has been on the agenda of the Conference since 2009, when the organization voted in favor of a resolution calling for marriage equality.
The latest initiative was crafted in partnership with LGBT agency Freedom to Marry, whose national campaign director, Marc Solomon, noted that “marriage is on the march in towns and cities across the nation, and these mayors will play an important role in advancing the cause.”
Joining Nutter are Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Erie Mayor Joe Sinnot, and Chad Goerner and Cory Booker, of Princeton and Newark, N.J., respectively.
Coalition members all signed on to a statement that expresses support for same-sex marriage and a commitment to pursuing equality for their constituents.
“We stand for the freedom to marry because it enhances the economic competitiveness of our communities, improves the lives of families that call our cities home and is simply the right thing to do,” the statement reads. “We look forward to working to build an America where all people can share in the love and commitment of marriage with the person with whom they share their life.”
The coalition is chaired by New York City’s Mike Bloomberg, Boston’s Thomas Menino, Houston’s Annise Parker, San Diego’s Jerry Sanders and Los Angeles’ Antonio Villaraigosa.
Nutter joined a handful of the mayors who took the podium at the press conference to explain their reasoning for supporting marriage equality.
“We respect everyone’s right and everyone’s wish, certainly in the birthplace of freedom, liberty and democracy, the city of Philadelphia, and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania should do the same,” Nutter said. “I encourage our members of Congress to support this great effort. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the American thing to do.”
Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, said Nutter’s backing is integral, considering his leadership as vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
“He plays a significant role with that group, and it’s a growing leadership role,” she said. “He did more than just sign on to this, he’s speaking out about his support and being very vocal, which is important. He threw the city’s full weight behind the effort.”