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Houston’s Mayor Stresses Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality

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When Houston Mayor Annise Parker joined over 80 other mayors in a press conference supporting marriage equality on Friday, she spoke the language of the people.

“We believe it’s not just the right thing to do, but it is the pro-active thing to do to support the economic health and vitality of all of our citizens and all of our cities,” Parker said.

In other words: being gay-friendly brings home the bacon.

Parker, Houston’s first openly gay mayor, was one of several mayors who spoke at the press conference in Washington, D.C., announcing a bipartisan drive for marriage equality supported by more than 80 mayors within the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

A statement by “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” echoes the sentiment. “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.” In that order, they might have added.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In tough economic times, every little bit helps, and these savvy mayors recognize that LGBT tourism dollars are worth courting. The signed statement also points out that gay-friendliness can influence whether businesses bring jobs to a city.

“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.”

“Houstonians are very realistic and pragmatic when it comes to a lot of issues,” says Noel Freeman, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. “They see what really matters: business. The economy. Getting things done. Being a world-class city. And we don’t let a lot of this silly stuff get in the way.”

Emily DePrang is a staff writer at The Texas Observer where she covers criminal justice and public health. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic and Salon.com, and she’s a former nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review. She’s holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Arizona and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013, she was a National Health Journalism Fellow; in 2012 she won the Sigma Delta Chi award for public service in magazine journalism.