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Villaraigosa & Other Big City Mayors Will Work to Pass National Pro-Gay Marriage Law

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Villaraigosa at an event in 2010 (Elise Thompson/LAist)
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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants same-sex couples to be accorded the right to marry, and is co-chairing a new national initiative backed by 80 mayors nationwide. Along with his counterparts from cities like New York and San Diego, Villaraigosa is taking part in "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry," an off-shoot group of "Freedom to Marry," a national organization that partners with local groups to push protections for same-sex couples to marry, explains City News Service.

"If we truly believe in family values, we should value all families,'' Villaraigosa said. "Denying gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry weakens society by hurting our communities, neighbors and families.''

Mayors for the Freedom to Marry will be asking their home cities to pass laws allowing gay marriage and encourage their congressional delegations to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

San Diego's Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who has a lesbian daughter, is co-chairing the group, and attests his position on same-sex marriage rights has evolved. Sanders once thought civil unions were adequate for same-sex couples. Sanders said: "I cannot look anyone in the face and tell them that their relationships are any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife. It seems that each year, more and more Americans are going through this same evolution as I did.''

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In 2008, Villaraigosa said he would gladly preside over same-sex marriage ceremonies in Los Angeles, saying "I will marry as many people as possible."