Case against DC marriages thrown out

Timothy Kincaid

January 14th, 2010

A motion for summary judgment is when you tell the court that the law is so obviously on your side that a trial would be a waste of time and request that you be declared the victor up front. Litigants on both sides of an issue often request summary judgment just as a matter of practicality, but it is generally only granted if there is little question as to the outcome of a case.

The coalition of anti-gay religious leaders headed by Bishop Harry Jackson seeking to force a referendum to oppose marriage equality filed a motion for summary judgment. So did the District of Columbia.

Today Judge Judity N. Macaluso found for the District (pdf):

ACCORDINGLY, for the reasons stated above, it is this 14th day of January 2010, hereby

ORDERED, that “Petitioners\’ Motion for Summary Judgment,” filed November 20, 2009, is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED, that Petitioners\’ request for a writ in the nature of mandamus is DENIED. It is further

ORDERED, that “District of Columbia\’s Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment,” filed December 18, 2009, is GRANTED. It is further

ORDERED, that Summary Judgment is entered in favor of the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics and the District of Columbia.

Richard W. Fitch

January 14th, 2010

Does this pre-empt any motion by Congress to reinstate the request for a referendum?

Lindoro Almaviva

January 14th, 2010

OUCH! If god was on their side, how come the judge didn’t rule in their favor?

Anyone heard from Debbie Thurman?

Lindoro Almaviva

January 14th, 2010

You know? I am reading the opinion of the court the best as I can since I am not a lawyer (and most of the talk goes right above my head). That being said, there is a quote that I thought bears repeating here. On page 21 the court says:

The District asserts that Petitioners may not challenge the IPA’s incorporation of the Human Rights Act into the CAA because they did not exhaust their administrative remedies by
raising this issue before the Board. The District’s argument fails for two reasons. First, exhaustion was not required because the appropriate forum for adjudicating the validity of the Human Rights Provision is the court, not the Board
(emphasis mine)

I wonder if this could be successfully used in the future, given the fact that we’ve been saying all along that the courts are the place to vent inequalities in the application of the law, specially when it refers to human rights, and not the ballot box.


January 14th, 2010

@Richard Fitch

This court case only dealt with the DC Human Rights Act and the decision by the city that the proposed referendum would violate that Act and was therefore not allowed under District law. The exact same thing happened when the Council passed the law recognizing out-of-state marriages last Spring.

Congress can still act in the next 30 legislative days (weekends and other days when Congress is in recess don’t count), and that period is expected to end around March 2. For Congress to act, however, either to overturn the Council’s decision or force a referendum, requires both the House and the Senate to pass legislation AND for Obama to sign it. Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will not allow any such legislation to proceed in the House, so Congressional action is not expected.

Edward Miessner

January 14th, 2010

“Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will not allow any such legislation to proceed in the House, so Congressional action is not expected.”

Good on Nancy!

Ray Foster

January 18th, 2010

That’s certainly a relief to hear that Pelosi isn’t going to permit action.

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