A liberal lion is leaving Boston politics. Democratic Mayor Tom Menino will not seek a sixth term. Beginning his service to the city in 1993, Menino led Boston to be a more inclusive town, and one that all people, regardless of orientation, can be proud to live in.
On July 20 of 2012, Menino stated that he try to oppose any effort by the fast food chain Chick-fil-A to open franchises in Boston. Their widely publicized anti-gay stance did not sit well with Menino’s views. As he told the Boston Herald, “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.” In this he joined Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who also condemned Chick-fil-A.
The forefront of inclusion advocated by Menino also includes access to and advocacy for gay marriage. Boston became one of the first cities in the country to legally recognize and permit same-sex marriages, when Massachusetts legalized them in 2004. In that year, several thousand gay couples exercised their newly won rights to become spouses. This expanded to 9,600 in the first three years.
Of his retirement from politics, Menino said that he will remain active in the Boston community, though perhaps take time off to enjoy his family. He believes that Boston has improved over the last few decades, and also told the Herald, “Great things in all neighborhoods of Boston, not some of the neighborhoods ... From Roxbury to East Boston, from Brighton to Hyde Park, It’s all much changed. Much changed, much more tolerance than there was before. ... It’s not about buildings, it’s about people, and how you love people. And how you make the city work.”
A UCLA study of the benefits of same-sex marriage on the state economy showed that after 2008, over a three year period, the extension of marriage to same sex couples would bring $111 million in revenue to Massachusetts, and create over three hundred jobs.
For his hard work, and his jovial nature, Menino will be missed by the citizens of Boston. Health concerns may be part of the reason for his retirement from politics, following an extended hospital stay in late 2012. His dedication to the city and the cause of equal rights and inclusion for all people made him a popular mayor, and despite his decision not to run for a record sixth term, it is certainly possible that such dedication may carry on with his successor, whoever that may be, if they follow the tone set by Menino’s twenty years in office.