Nashville’s Karl Dean is the first Tennessee mayor to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry

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Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has joined a group of nearly 500 American mayors to pledge support for Freedom to Marry. With it, the mayor released the following statement:

I believe that all people should be treated fairly and equally and that their individual dignity should be respected. Embracing and celebrating our growing diversity makes our city stronger. Nashville needs to continue in that direction, and it’s my hope that joining this effort will help us do that.

The founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson, commented:

Joining mayors across the country, Nashville's mayor today is standing up for families in his community and speaking out in support of the freedom to marry. Tennessee's denial of the freedom to marry directly harms the state's more than 10,000 same-sex couples and their loved ones, and by putting obstacles in the path of businesses and families, drags everyone down. We welcome Mayor Dean as another voice in favor of moving Tennessee, the South, and all of America to the right side of history.

So what exactly is the statement that the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” are making? Here’s the official pledge each of the nearly 500 mayors have made:

As mayors of great American cities, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry. We personally know many gay and lesbian people living in our cities who are in committed, loving relationships, who are active participants in the civic life of our communities, and who deserve to be able to marry the person with whom they share their life.   

We are proud that at its 2009 annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously approved a resolution stating that: “The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports marriage equality for same-sex couples, and the recognition and extension of full equal rights to such unions, including family and medical leave, tax equity, and insurance and retirement benefits, and opposes the enshrinement of discrimination in the federal or state constitutions.”   

Our cities derive great strength from their diversity, and gay and lesbian families are a crucial part. Studies have shown what we know through our hands-on experience—that cities that celebrate and cultivate diversity are the places where creativity and ideas thrive. They are the places where today’s entrepreneurs are most likely to choose to build the businesses of tomorrow. Allowing same-sex couples the right to marry enhances our ability to build this kind of environment, which is good for all of us.      

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.  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.

Via an email to supporters, the Tennessee Equality Project’s Executive Director Chris Sanders said:

On behalf of Tennessee's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied community, we extend our profound thanks to Mayor Dean for his support.

It has been our pleasure to work with our national partners at Freedom to Marry on this development and to work with the Dean administration since 2007 on policy advances that protect our community in Nashville.  Mayor Dean also stood for our entire statewide community when he worked against discriminatory state legislation such as HB600.  Today's announcement extends his reputation as a champion of equality.

As well, TEP is asking us all to sign a "thank you" form on its website thanking Mayor Dean for becoming the first mayor in Tennessee to support Mayors for the Freedom to Marry.