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We stand together, the Democratic mayor of San Antonio and a senior appointee in three Republican presidential administrations, united in our support for the freedom to marry and an end to the discrimination caused by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which treats one legally married couple differently from another.
On the surface, we might seem an odd mix: One of us leads a city in what has been a predictably red state; the other hopes to see the Republican Party and the nation focus on the critical issues that will determine the future strength and prosperity of this great country. One of us sits on the edge of the millennial generation as the youngest mayor of a top 50 U.S. city; the other, a former head of the World Bank, senior Bush administration official and ambassador to Indonesia.
To us, this simply speaks to the growing bipartisan support for same-sex marriage. We already know 62 percent of independents are behind the freedom to marry, according to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll. And the support from young Americans couldn’t be more dramatic, with 81 percent, regardless of political affiliation, in favor of the freedom to marry.
Even more remarkable is the speed with which attitudes on this issue have changed as Americans have had a chance to reflect on it. To us, this burgeoning support isn’t surprising because it reflects the fundamental American values of civil equality, personal freedom and liberty. It also reflects a common-sense recognition that when people choose to take on not only the joys of marriage, but the responsibilities and obligations, that decision should be supported and applauded.
We know those principles will guide the conversations among the Young Republicans who gather in San Antonio this weekend for their quarterly conference.
It’s not much different for those of us leading America’s great cities. Not only have more than 350 mayors from 35 states signed on as Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, the United Conference of Mayors signed on to the U.S. Supreme Court challenge to DOMA. To us, the diversity of our cities, large and small, is our greatest resource. Asking the federal government to treat all loving couples equally will strengthen our families and communities. It’s really that simple and that profound.
Conservatives have long recognized that forcing people to hide their identity is not only unfair and hurtful, but causes many harmful social consequences. Now conservatives are increasingly recognizing that enabling individuals to enter into marriage is both fair and just, strengthening families, neighborhoods and society at large.
We are heartened by the growing political backing from both sides of the aisle. Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois have announced their support and dozens of prominent Republicans signed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court backing the freedom to marry. Democratic senators have also stepped forward, with 52 now in favor of same-sex marriage.
As the Young Republicans converge in San Antonio to discuss so many important issues facing our country today, they have an opportunity to lead the way toward civil equality under the law. Marriage is not the province of any one party or any one ideology. It is the dream of all parents for their children and the foundation of family life. The issue of marriage equality should not divide our country. It’s time to put this issue behind us.
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