01/19/2012 05:56 pm ET

Michael Bloomberg To Advocate Same-Sex Marriage Equality At Mayors' Conference

Working with marriage-equality advocates Freedom to Marry, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the heads of several other major American cities will launch a new group backing same-sex marriage on Friday.

The announcement of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry is scheduled for Friday morning, when Bloomberg and others will be attending the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors being held in Washington. The group currently includes over 70 mayors from the across the country, a mixture that Freedom to Marry praised in a press release as coming "from cities and towns -- large and small -- with diverse geographic, ethnic and political backgrounds."

In the same statement, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders strongly backed the need for laws allowing same-sex marriage, calling it a positive influence on the country. "Allowing loving and committed couples to join in marriage has benefits not just for couples and their families -- but also for society," he said. "Marriage encourages people to take responsibility for each other, provides greater security for children, and helps our country live up to its promises set forth in our founding documents."

Sanders, a Republican, is one of the new group's co-chairs, along with Bloomberg, Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, and Boston's Thomas Menino. The executive group represents both parties and, with Bloomberg, an independent, giving weight to the group's claims of bipartisan appeal.

Bloomberg's home state of New York became the latest state to allow same-sex marriage, passing a law through the state legislature in June of last year.

Another notable member of the group is former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. While the Obama administration sometimes faced anger from gay groups during Emanuel's tenture in the West Wing, he called New York's legalization of gay marriage a "good thing" in an interview last year and told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday that "I'm going to support [same-sex marriage] because I think it's the right thing, and it's consistent with our values."