Hayek backs marriage rights

BY DANIEL SEIDL | APRIL 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa City Major Matt Hayek is joining city leaders across the country to face a national issue — same-sex marriage.

“I receive invitations to join advocacy groups on a regular basis,” he said. “Some of the issues are particularly relevant to Iowa City.”

One of these issues is marriage equality, he said. He recently joined Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a national group of mayors who advocate on behalf of same-sex marriage issues.

He decided to join the group because he felt like it fit with the principles of Iowa City, he said.

“Mayors for Freedom to Marry advocates for a set of issues that I believe are consistent with long-held values of Iowa City,” he said. “Our local culture promotes diversity.”

The group currently consists of 392 mayors from 38 different states and Washington, D.C, but Jo Deutsch, the federal director of Freedom to Marry, said that number is ever changing.

“Every day, we have new mayors [join the group],” she said. “Some mayors are finishing their journeys and are just starting to promote [marriage equality].”

Some notable names on that list include New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray.

Hayek’s decision to join the group is a progressive one, said Matty Smith, the director of communications for One Iowa, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organization.

“Mayor Hayek stands on the right side of history,” he said. “We’re really pleased to see so many politicians [taking a stand].”

Hayek is one of three Iowa mayors to join the group. The others are Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.

Joining the organization was mostly a statement, Hayek said, and many of the issues the organization is advocating for fall outside of Iowa, where same-sex marriage has been legalized for nearly five years.

“It’s more like a gesture of support,” he said. “The reality is this organization is engaged in advocacy outside of Iowa.”

Even though Iowa has already legalized same-sex marriage, Deutsch said it is still important to legislate for the issue on a national level, and the issue could affect Iowa residents.

“Just because you’re living in Iowa doesn’t mean you will always live in Iowa,” she said. “[We won’t stop] until people can get married and have their marriage recognized by every state.”

Legalization of same-sex marriage isn’t the only issue these organizations help with, Smith said.

“I think that the work of organizations like Freedom to Marry … is really helping to change the culture,” he said. “I think it’s really sending the right message.”

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