Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has become the first mayor in Tennessee to sign a statement supporting marriage equality.
Dean signed the Freedom to Marry statement last week after joining the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, a bipartisan group that supports marriage equality.
"I believe that all people should be treated fairly and equally and that their individual dignity should be respected,” Dean said. “Embracing and celebrating our growing diversity makes our city stronger. Nashville needs to continue in that direction, and it’s my hope that joining this effort will help us do that."
With Dean’s signature, Mayors for the Freedom now boasts at least one mayor from every Southern state.
More than 500 mayors around the country have signed the statement so far, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and Bayfield Mayor Larry MacDonald.
Earlier this summer, Dean was named one of the country's fittest mayors by the health and fitness Web magazine Health Fitness Revolution. The list was compiled using information about the mayors' policies and their personal fitness regimens.
Dean was praised for his "Walk 100 Miles with the Mayor" campaign and his use of stimulus grant funding to create new bike paths and parks.
Last year, Dean drew attention when the Country Music Association presented him the Founding President's Award during the group's board of directors meeting. The award recognizes leaders for outstanding service to the association.
In pointing out Dean's contributions, the board's president said he aided the success of the CMA Music Festival with the opening this year of a new $623 million convention center downtown.