Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s support for marriage equality reinforced

If there was a question about where Mayor Mitch Landrieu stands on same-sex marriage, it seems to have been cleared up.

The issue is not usually a feature of mayoral elections, of course. Landrieu won two landslides promising to bring New Orleans back from disaster, not to promote equality for same-sex couples, who are for the most part at the mercy of the states and the federal government as they seek to marry.

But with a landmark court case on same-sex marriage working its way through federal court in New Orleans, Landrieu’s position has come into greater relief: He’s for it.

“The mayor has long supported ending marriage discrimination at all levels of government,” Landrieu spokesman Tyler Gamble said in an email. “As an employer, the city of New Orleans recognizes domestic partnerships and allows our employees’ partners to be eligible for benefits.”

Gamble added that “the city has an interest in strengthening and supporting all caring, committed and responsible family forms.”

That is more or less what the City Attorney’s Office said in a brief filed in support of the plaintiffs hoping to knock down Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The city’s amicus brief does not explicitly spell out an argument for why U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman should force Louisiana to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Instead it simply mentions that New Orleans has “enacted municipal laws recognizing domestic partnerships and allowing same-sex domestic partners of city employees to receive benefits from the city’s health care plan.”

Still, this week, Landrieu’s name appeared on a list of more than 400 city leaders who had signed a statement in support of same-sex marriage drawn up by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Dallas. The group has issued similar statements in the past, and Landrieu’s name hasn’t always appeared with them.

He may be a Democratic mayor in a fairly liberal city, but he also comes from a Catholic family, and there is plenty of speculation about whether Landrieu will run for governor in the increasingly red state of Louisiana.

But this year’s message from the conference offered an unambiguous statement on the issue: “As mayors of great American cities, we proudly stand together in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry.”