Davis city attorney to sign court brief following national efforts
On Jan. 17 the Davis City Council unanimously passed an instruction to the city’s attorney, Harriet Steiner, to sign on a court brief currently compiled by the Los Angeles City Attorney regarding the support for federal legalization of gay marriage and the end of discrimination against gay marriage. The court brief will be delivered to the U.S. Supreme Court, and be decided on during this summer.
“This idea [is to add] the City of Davis’ name to the Los Angeles mayor’s friend-of-the-court petition on behalf of legalizing gay marriage across the U.S.,” said Brett Lee, city council member.
According to the Davis City Council staff report, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office’s friend-of-the-court brief was available for review on Feb. 20. The report mentions the effect of marriage discrimination, such as the harm to citizen’s health and welfare, costs to local businesses in tourism revenue and impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of local government as employers. The brief coincides with current city policies, including the most recent resolution 13-115: Resolution Reaffirming Support for Same Sex Marriage. Mayor Dan Wolk will have to sign on by March 2.
“This has been an important issue for me, and I know it has been an important issue to our community. I think it is defining the shift of our generation,” said Wolk.
The brief is supported by various organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, individual mayors and cities and the organization Freedom to Marry and its campaign, the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. The organization contacted and requested Wolk to join the group of mayors already supporting the campaign. According to representative of Freedom to Marry Angela Dallara in an email interview, the city of Davis is one of the many California cities that are supportive of the federal legalization of gay marriage. According to Dallara, Mayor Wolk’s approval to join the movement proves his agreement for marriage equality to be prevalent everywhere in the U.S.
“The City of Davis, like others throughout California, prides itself on being smart, open, inclusive and diverse. By joining Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, Mayor Wolk cements his support for marriage and sends the message that he expects nothing less than fairness and equality for all people, not just in Davis, but throughout the nation,” Dallara said.
By signing on to the brief, Davis will be joining neighboring cities to support the cause. Woodland, West Sacramento and Sacramento have previously signed on.
According to Lee, the mayor of Davis does not have more executive power than other city council members. In order for approval, other council members must sign on to the court brief.
“The council unanimously agreed that Davis should sign on in support of legalizing gay marriage across the U.S.,” Lee said.
Wolk asserted that a few people in Davis oppose the decision, however he believes that the community in Davis generally supports the legalization of gay marriage and the LGBT community.
“In general, Davis is better than most areas but it has still [room for improvement]. We have defused issues about racial discrimination and prejudice, sexual orientation and identity issues, [and] people with disabilities… I think it would be better for us as a society to treat people as individuals,” Lee said.
According to Dallara, 12 states across the country continue to discriminate against same-sex marriages. The organization’s campaign, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, requests mayors from all over the U.S. to sign on to ending marriage discrimination at all levels of government. The campaign targets mayors because of their close relationship with constituents and communities they serve.
“Mayors are in a unique position to make the case for marriage, and are accessible and responsive to the constituents and communities they serve, making them super-strong advocates for ending marriage discrimination and helping state and federal lawmakers and judges do the right thing,” Dallara said.
Freedom to Marry is a national campaign to support same-sex couples opportunity to marry. The organization focuses on a “Roadmap to Victory” strategy, which according to Dallara, involves winning the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage and end federal marriage discrimination. The campaign involves a nonpartisan group of mayors who represent cities all over the U.S.
“As leaders of our cities, mayors are in a strong place to showcase American values, and that means standing up for basic human rights and dignity,” Dallara said. “We are working to get more mayors on board to show that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry.”
Graphics courtesy to Freedom to Marry.