Mayor Michael Bloomberg told University of North Carolina graduates Sunday that last week's gay-marriage vote in their state shows there is still a lot of work to be done for civil rights in this country.
"I would argue last week's referendum banning same-sex marriage shows just how much more work needs to be done to ensure freedom and equality for all people," he said.
Bloomberg told graduates that Americans have slowly understood since the country was founded that, if the government can deny freedom to one person, it can deny freedom to everyone.
The mayor said every generation has brought more freedom to the country, and he expects the latest generation to continue along the same path, especially after last Tuesday's vote approving a North Carolina constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Bloomberg's remarks to thousands of graduates at Kenan Memorial Stadium came a day after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney publicly denounced gay marriage during his address at Liberty University in Virginia, the largest evangelical college in the nation.
"Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," Romney told a cheering crowd.
The rhetoric over gay rights heated up after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage last week, a day after nearly a half-million North Carolina voters took to the polls to approve the amendment.
Bloomberg also said Sunday the university's motto, "Light and Liberty," should be the defining spirit of this century.
With wire services