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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 joined The Texas Observer in 2011 as a staff writer covering criminal justice and public health. Before that, she was nonfiction editor of the Sonora Review. Before that, she was a waitress. She's also appeared in The Atlantic, Salon.com, and VICE. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Arizona and has won some things, including the Public Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists (2012), the National Health Journalism Fellowship from USC Annenberg (2013), and a nomination for a National Magazine Award in Reporting (2014). She still sometimes thinks about waitressing.