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Hundreds of supporters of gay marriage rallied at city hall plaza Tuesday afternoon, calling on the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA, the acronym for the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act. Among the speakers was Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who staked out a major role on the issue. 

Big city mayors are among the loudest on the issues of the day: For Michael Bloomberg of New York, it’s guns; for Dave Bing of Detroit, it’s jobs; and for Menino, it has long been the issues of marriage equality and gay rights.

“You know, there’s a lot of tough decisions I make every day as mayor,” Menino said. “But supporting marriage equality has always been an easy call for me.”

Menino reminded the crowd here at city hall that he was standing in this very spot in 2004 when a majority of Americans strongly backed the exclusivity of heterosexual marriage.

“That’s what this is all about, folks,” he said. “Living up to the high ideals of this country that was founded on those principals. It’s encouraging to see politicians finally catching up to the people on this issue.”

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, who also addressed the crowd, singled out Mayor Menino for special acknowledgment.

“Thank you to Tom Menino for being a fearless leader for the LGBT community,” Markey said. “Fearless leader for the women’s community, fearless leader all minorities to ensure that their rights are protected.”

“I think when you look at what Mayor Menino has done, where he stood on this very important issue, I think he’s been a leader,” saod Boston city councilor Tito Jackson. “I think he’s been a national leader and definitely a local leader on this very important issue. And I think we continue to be led well in a direction of people in the city of Boston being included rather than excluded, and that’s what this is about.”

The rally featured a host of politicians, but Lynn Gerten, who was there with her daughter Molly, who is also a lesbian, said Menino was here when few others were.

“He was with us before a lot of other people were,” she said. “I think the world of him. And I know for people slightly older than I am, it’s not easy, and I have enormous admiration for his courage, as well as Deval Patrick. You know, it’s not courageous any more. Before, it was courageous.”