In its ongoing campaign for same-sex marriage rights, the Mayors for Freedom to Marry Campaign has received the support from Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
Earlier today, Ravenstahl signed a statement asserting that he "proudly stand[s] in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry ... I 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."
He discussed that pledge in an interview with City Paper this afternoon.
How did you come about this decision? Earlier in the year, a Post-Gazette article quoted your office as saying you did not support it.
This is actually a position I've had for some time. This isn't obviously an issue that crosses my desk on a daily basis. It is something that I believe. It is something I'm proud to now sign the Mayors for Marriage Equality, and join fellow mayors in the state and across the country in the effort. Hearts change, minds change. I had numerous discussions with members of my staff who are gay, friends who are gay, and as I said, hearts change and mind change, and mine has changed.
What have you heard from constituents on this? Have you been contacted about this previously?
Again, this is something I've felt for some time. I think the heightened awareness with the President's recent endorsement of same sex marriage is something I think perhaps brought it across my desk more so then before. We're focused on running the city, creating economic development opportunities. This isn't something normally that mayors deal with. I'd say the increased awareness and increased dialogue around the president's decision is when I was asked to formally sign on.
Who asked you to sign on?
There were constituents, some people would send emails. I know my LGBT task force has you know, communicated to me their interest in me signing onto the pledge. When I go the meetings, this is one of the issues that we've talked about … [T]his is a position that I've taken and I thought it was important to communicate that to the residents of the city.
In PA, same-sex marriage is illegal already. Is there anything advocacy-wise you're planning on doing or supporting legislatively?
Not necessarily from a legislative standpoint -- you know, signing on was a personal decision that I made. Obviously when I'm asked, I'll voice my support, but in the short term we don't have any plans for any local legislative action. Throughout the course of time … we'll see if anything is appropriate but at this time there are no plans for anything other than signing the pledge.
It's a divisive issue in the political realm; what backlash do you expect from this?
It's a personal decision, not a political one. Some folks will agree, others will disagree. I felt it was appropriate to state my personal opinion. I didn't consider the political ramifications. It's something I felt I had to do.