Reynolds, who currently serves in Bethlehem’s city council, said he was motivated to make such a statement because it was something he felt strongly about.
“I have long been a supporter of LGBT rights and equal rights and it was an important step for me to take. I wanted to show our residents that it is not only the position I want to take, but one I am not afraid to take during my campaign,” he said.
Reynolds said everyone should have access to the same legal rights, especially through marriage.
“When it comes to any type of marriage, I don’t believe it is the government’s place to put one type of marriage above the other.”
He said he would implement policies to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees. Reynolds also said he would require diversity training for public-safety employees and would be happy to join the advocacy group Mayors for Marriage Equality.
The candidate played an integral part in getting the human-relations ordinance passed unanimously in Bethlehem in 2011, and said it was the first legislation of its kind in the city.
“I think we are progressive but, at the same time, there are some voices here that weren’t happy with the ordinance and they took that stand.”
Reynolds said the reaction has been mixed since his announcement for LGBT advocacy.
“A lot of people have been contacting us by email, phone calls and coming by the office to share their support and how they have been inspired by our campaign, which is progressive and grassroots. A lot of people came out and said they were proud to live in Bethlehem,” he said.
Reynolds said he also has received negative messages, but it hasn’t frayed his spirit.
“I didn’t even think twice about making the announcement. It was something we discussed. There has been backlash — we have had nasty emails and some people who aren’t too happy — but that is just how it goes. Overall, it has been supportive and I always say when I stand up for equal rights, it shouldn’t be an issue in which we are talking about. It is embarrassing that, now, we would have to have this conversation.”
Reynolds said that although the human-relations ordinance has been his biggest victory in LGBT rights to date, he also has been involved in other efforts.
“I have been a public advocate for equality rights and marriage equality for a long time. I have attended rallies for the LGBT community and have worked with local LGBT individuals in the Lehigh Valley,” he said.
For more information on Reynolds’ campaign for mayor, visit www.jwilliamreynolds.net.