Nation’s Mayors Support Gay Marriage But Complain About Unemployment
DC, Washington, United States (AHN) – The U.S. Conference of Mayors wrapped up its winter meeting Friday in Washington, D.C., with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel stepping into controversies on same sex marriage and education.
Emanuel joined about 80 other mayors from across the nation in endorsing laws to give legal recognition to same sex marriage, along with the tax breaks and other benefits spouses can share.
The mayors signed on to a statement that said, “Our cities derive great strength from their diversity and gay and lesbian families are a crucial part. Studies have shown what we know through our hands-on experience that cities that celebrate and cultivate diversity are the places where creativity and ideas thrive.”
Emanuel supported the Illinois Legislature’s effort last year to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples.
He said New York did “a good thing” last June when state lawmakers legalized gay marriage.
In separate comments Friday, Emanuel discussed his plan to turn Chicago’s community colleges into training institutions for the city’s employers.
Currently, Chicago’s City Colleges have a graduation rate of about 7 percent and job prospects for graduates that are “not as high,” Emanuel said.
His plan calls for each of the city’s seven community colleges to operate with specialties, such as health care, transportation, hospitality and manufacturing.
In addition, employers would be brought in to develop curricula that would train the students to become their employees.
“I want it to have economic value” to attend college, Emanuel said at the downtown Washington hotel where about 250 mayors were meeting.
Turning colleges into job training institutions is controversial among some academics, who say a well-rounded education requires liberal arts courses that include literature, history and the arts.
Nevertheless, job creation and recovery from the economic disaster of the Great Recession were dominant themes throughout the meeting this week.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report that said the nation’s metropolitan areas will struggle for five more years to regain jobs lost during the recession that started in September 2008.
“The recovery is very uneven across U.S. regions, with the southeastern and southwestern metro [areas that] were the most affected by the housing bubble looking ahead to years of recovery,” the report says.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls will grow about 1.3 percent this year, which is unlikely to reduce the unemployment rate below 8 percent, according to a report by IHS Global Insight.
The report predicts the nation will regain nearly half the jobs lost during the Great Recession by the end of 2012.
The mayors used the economic report to try to prod Congress to approve legislation that would create more jobs.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, president of the Conference of Mayors, said “Congress has jumped ship” in its obligation to stimulate the economy and employment.
However, Villaraigosa acknowledged cities will have a hard time squeezing money out of Congress at a time the federal government is trying to reduce its deficit by cutting spending.
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