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Update: Marriage Recognition in the Nation’s Capital

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2009

Back in May, the Washington D.C. City Counsel passed legislation to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in those states in which it is legal. On May 6, Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill.

Rev. Harry Jackson, a pastor of a large church in Beltsville, Maryland, decided that he wanted to take advantage of a provision in D.C. law that allows for a referendom on bills. He registered as a D.C. voter (using what appears to have been a fraudulent address) and took out a petition.

However, the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics ruled that such a referndom was in violation of the city’s election code. Election law in D.C. prohibits votes on matters covered under the city’s 1977 Human Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination against gay men, lesbians and other minority groups.

Yesterday a Superior Court judge refused to put a stay on its enactment. (Washington Post)

A Superior Court judge decided yesterday not to delay enactment of a law stipulating that the D.C. government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

Barring some action by Congress, the bill will become law on Monday when the congressional review period expires.

Enemies of marriage equality are not likely to accept defeat

Brian Raum, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian conservative law firm that represented Jackson and his group, said they will file an appeal seeking to have the law overturned. The group announced after the ruling that it will seek a ballot initiative on a law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The City Council is expected to move forward on their goal of legalizing marriage in the capital.

Update: Brian, a reader at our site, provided a link to the ruling.

As he reminded me, an important part of this case was that the judge did not find that the “proposed referendum is consistent with the DCHRA.” In other words, the referendum was contrary to the District’s Human Rights Act.



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