Chapel Hill News

Lavelle, Kleinschmidt urge freedom to marry

Chapel Hill and Carrboro Mayors Mark Kleinschmidt and Lydia Lavelle are among 226 mayors that have signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to end marriage discrimination nationwide.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro are two of the 40 municipalities joining the brief as well, according to a news release from the two towns Friday.

The brief includes mayors from towns as small as Thompson, North Dakota, to the largest five cities in the nation, as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the International Municipal Lawyers Association and the National League of Cities.

“Ultimately, the issue of marriage equality is about welcoming all families to our communities,” said Kleinschmidt. “I am proud of Chapel Hill, the first town in the South to elect an openly gay person to public office, for joining towns and cities across the country to ask the Supreme Court to extend the right to marry to all Americans.”

“Our Board of Aldermen was the first town in North Carolina to offer domestic partner benefits, and has continued to pass resolutions supporting our gay and lesbian citizens, including support of civil marriage for everyone,” Lavelle said in the release. “As a member of the LGBT community, I am proud that our town has always stood firmly in support of this fundamental right for all people.”

Since its launch, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry has partnered with the United States Conference of Mayors to build and grow support.

“We launched Mayors for the Freedom to Marry three years ago because mayors are closest to their constituents and communities and singularly able to make the case that marriage makes for stronger families and a more vibrant economy,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “We’re very proud of the 700 mayors who have been a part of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry over the three years of this campaign. This brief demonstrates the diversity of leaders across the country who know that America is ready for the freedom to marry and want the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution.”

“It is time for marriage equality to be the law of the land,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. “It’s the right thing to do and that’s why the U.S. Conference of Mayors has joined this brief. Our organization adopted policy opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in 1984. In 2009 we adopted policy in support of the freedom to marry, and last June reaffirmed that policy and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that freedom to marry is the right of all Americans.”

The brief was authored by the City Attorney’s Office of Los Angeles and was filed at the Supreme Court Friday morning, according to the release. It states: “Municipalities, as the level of government most closely connected to the community they serve, bear a great burden when a target sector of their populace is denied the right to marry. … When the freedom to marry is denied, municipalities are the first level of government to suffer the impact.”