South Carolina Mayor Becomes 500th To Join Coalition Supporting Marriage Equality

    Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin said supporting marriage equality for same-sex couples is "the right thing to do."

    There are now 500 mayors across the United States who have joined a coalition backing marriage equality rights for same-sex couples, Freedom to Marry announced Tuesday.

    With the new addition of Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin, the bipartisan coalition of mayors launched by Freedom to Marry in 2012 reached the historic milestone just as the Supreme Court is set to consider taking up cases challenging statewide bans on marriage for same-sex couples early next week.

    "It's a great honor to be able to stand up and represent 500 mayors from all across this great nation standing together in the name of equality," Benjamin said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "As Dr. King might say, I don't know if that's the historic, politic or popular thing to do. But I do know that it's the right thing to do because we're all Americans and if you are not free then neither am I."

    Benjamin joins only one other mayor in South Carolina who has signed onto the coalition, Abbeville Mayor Sarah Sherwood, and is the only mayor on the list from a major city there, according to the organization.

    About 100 mayors have joined the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry coalition in just the last few months with many leading cities and towns located in states where same-sex couples are currently unable to marry. Recent additions include Zachary Vruwink of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin; Dick Moore of Elkhart, Indiana; and Earl Leiken of Shaker Heights, Ohio.

    "From Alabama to West Virginia and from big cities and small, 500 mayors have now pledged to make the case in their communities for ending marriage discrimination," said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, in a statement. "Mayor Benjamin, like the hundreds of othermayors, knows that marriage strengthens families and communities."

    And with the Supreme Court about to weigh taking up marriage equality cases, Solomon said the coalition sends a strong message to the justices.

    "The Supreme Court should listen to the bipartisan chorus of mayors who stand on the right side of history and bring an end to marriage discrimination in America once and for all," he said.