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Mayor Parker helps drive Freedom to Marry act: Steps up while Dallas mayor shrinks back

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Mayor Annise Parker announced her support at the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Friday.  Photo via Mayors for the Freedom to Marry/Facebook
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The Freedom to Marry coalition has generated support from mayors across the nation. Photo via Freedom to Marry/Facebook

What do 80 (and counting) Republican, Democrat and Independent mayors from cities large and small have in common?

Usually not much. But on Friday morning, the motley bipartisan crew came together in support of Freedom to Marry, a campaign to win marriage rights for all, nationwide. 

Houston's Mayor Annise Parker acted as a vocal proponent and co-chair of the proclamation, which was presented to the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

 "This bipartisan grouping is evidence of how much ground has been gained," Parker said. "It has truly become a mainstream social justice issue."

 "This is meant to highlight the ongoing battle for all people to be treated equally under the law when it comes to whom one can marry," Parker said in a statement. "I was invited to participate as chair of USCM's Criminal and Social Justice Committee and as a gay elected official.

"I would note that the effort was led by two Republicans and two Democrats, none of whom are gay. This bipartisan grouping is evidence of how much ground has been gained. It has truly become a mainstream social justice issue."

Parker has a personal stake in the matter: She and partner Kathy Hubbard have been together for 21 years, raising two adopted daughters and a foster son. 

Other mayoral co-chairs include Michael Bloomberg of New York City, Thomas Menino of Boston, Jerry Sanders of San Diego and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell of Austin is the only other Texas mayor to sign the pledge — noticeably absent is Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings. 

Though Dallas County ranks No. 2 in the state for percentage of same-sex couples, according to Dallas Voice, Rawlings "says he "personally" supports same-sex marriage but doesn't sign things related to social issues that don't directly impact city affairs."

Founded by civil rights attorney and advocate Evan Wolfson, the Freedom to Marry campaign works toward a goal of universal marriage rights.

A "Road Map to Victory" outlines three avenues of attack: Win more states by overturning anti-gay legislation; grow the majority in favor of marriage rights by increasing public awareness and support; and end federal marriage discrimination with the repeal of the controversial and limiting Defense of Marriage Act.

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