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The QueQue: Castro stumps for marriage equality, Plastic bag reduction sagging, Active-duty military suicides jump

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Castro stumps for marriage equality

Friday night, after dozens of U.S. mayors declared their support for same-sex marriage equality at a D.C. press event, Major Julián Castro chimed in over Facebook: "Today I proudly joined the mayors of Houston, Austin, New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and more than 60 other American mayors of cities big and small in support of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry petition for same-sex marriage equality." The ringing endorsement should come as no surprise. Soon after winning election in 2009, Castro made history when he agreed to serve as Grand Marshal for the city's gay pride parade, the first San Antonio mayor to do so, drawing outrage from local religious conservatives. "We're a city that includes folks, that values our diversity — that doesn't just tolerate diversity," he told us back then. "To equate lesbians and gays with something immoral is just wrong."

Friday, Castro signed onto a pledge with Mayors for the Freedom to Marry that calls for equal marriage rights and states, "Our cities derive great strength from their diversity, and gay and lesbian families are a crucial part. … 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." The message is one given in nearly every LGBT-rights debate inside the halls of government: that full equality is not only moral, but it's economically smart. Annise Parker, Houston's first openly gay mayor who's helping lead the petition alongside mayors of New York, Boston, San Diego and L.A., was quoted calling marriage equality the "proactive thing to do to support the economic health and vitality of all of our citizens and all of our cities" — that being gay-friendly helps cities attract businesses and jobs.

It's largely the same argument Castro used when he pushed for domestic-partner benefits for gay and straight city employees in the city's last budget season, catching predictable hell for it from the same group of loud, angry religious conservatives of the "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" variety. LGBT activists and advocates swooned not just because of Castro's repeat line that "there are not going to be any second-class citizens in San Antonio," but because he and the rest of Council (despite resistance from D5's David Medina, D9's Elisa Chan, and D10's Carlton Soules) actually delivered.

In Texas, bringing about full same-sex marriage equality would mean a state constitutional amendment or ballot referendum overturning the Texas' all-out ban on same-sex marriage; the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2009 unanimously passed a resolution opposing "the enshrinement of discrimination in federal or state constitutions." Along with Parker and Castro, other Texas mayors who've signed on to the pledge include those in Austin, Castle Hills, Galveston, and Shavano Park, according to the group's website. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has notably refused to sign the pledge, drawing protests from gay-rights groups in the state.

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