Posts Tagged As: Washington DC

Videos from the National Equality March

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2009

Lt. Dan Choi, who is in the process of being dismissed
from the New York National Guard under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Sex and the City start Cynthia Nixon:

Judy Shepard, mother of hate crime murder victim Matthew Shepard:

Lady Gaga:

March organizer and LGBT activist Cleve Jones:

Oscar-winning (Milk) screenwriter Dustin Lance Black:

Veteran civil rights leader and chairman of the NAACP Julian Bond (Parts 1 and 2):

David Mixner:

LGBT Servicmembers Remembered At Arlington National Cemetary

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2009

Robert Polzoni sent these photos on his Flicker stream.

Lt. Daniel Choi, front row center, at the start of the wreath-laying ceremony

Lt. Daniel Choi, front row center, at the start of the wreath-laying ceremony

Lt. Dan Choi and other former servicemembers today honored those who gave their lives for our nation with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Many of the former servicemembers have been dismissed from the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Choi was dismissed came out earlier this year, and he is in the process of being dismissed under President Obama’s watch. The ceremony at Arlington was among 50 events being held as part of Sunday\’s National Equality March.

Lt. Choi hands the wreath to the honor guard.

Lt. Choi hands the wreath to the honor guard.


D.C. Marriage Bill Introduced

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2009

As expected, David Catania introduced a bill to the city council of the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage. (NYT)

City Council members introduced legislation Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage here. If it passes, as expected, Washington would be the first city below the Mason-Dixon line to allow such unions. The city\’s bill is expected to become law by December.

General consensus is that there will be no concerted attempt in Congress to block the home rule decision by the District and that, after some denouncements which will be mostly ignored but good for politicking back home, the law will go into effect.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, said he did not believe his fellow opponents of same-sex marriage would be able to block the city\’s measure legalizing it.

“Given the other issues Congress is focused on, such as health care, it hasn\’t got much attention,” said Representative Chaffetz, the ranking member of the House subcommittee that oversees the District. “You couple that with the Democrats\’ stranglehold on House rules, and the minority is left out of the legislative process.”

Some are warning that future changes in Congressional make up could result in Republican efforts to ban marriage equality in the District. And that could be true. However, I believe that if the policy were firmly in place for a number of years, such efforts would appear distasteful, especially to those Republicans who still believe that “smaller local government” is an ideology instead of a campaign slogan.

Incidentally, Bishop Harry Jackson is trumpeting a theme that we discussed earlier this week.

Bishop Jackson, who helped file the petition for a referendum, said: “The faith community has been concerned for months, that it\’s been cast as bigots, racists, and worse. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

I think that perhaps anti-gay activists may be starting to hear the voices of their own conscience.

Marriage Bill to be Presented in D.C. Next Tuesday

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2009


A Washington, D.C., councilman says he’ll introduce a bill next week to allow same-sex couples to wed.

D.C. Councilman David Catania says he plans to introduce the bill Tuesday.

Same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them are already recognized in the District, but the proposed law would let couples marry there regardless of gender.

The bill is expected to pass easily with near-unanimous support. Then it will be up to Congress to decide whether the District of Columbia should be allowed to determine marriage laws for its own residents.

If the “recognize marriage” bill passed earlier this year is an indicator, Congress may find that other things are much more deserving of its attention than marriage in the District.

D.C. Marriage Equality an All But Sure Thing

Timothy Kincaid

September 11th, 2009

District of Columbia councilman David Catania will introduce a marriage equality bill for the District in the coming weeks. He appears to have adequate support for passage. (WaPo)

After months of buildup and behind-the-scenes lobbying, a bill by David A. Catania, one of two openly gay members of the council, has been drafted and is ready to be introduced in the coming weeks. Catania (I-At Large) expects a final vote before the end of the year. On Thursday, Catania said he had 10 co-sponsors, all but assuring that the measure will be approved by the council. The bill would have to survive congressional review before it could become law.

Wisely, Catania is following the precedent of New England states in assuring religious institutions that they need not change their theology.

Catania’s bill, titled the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” stresses that no religious organizations or their officials would have to perform a same-sex marriage or provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples.

“I think it is very important for people to realize we are talking about a civil marriage, not a religious marriage,” Catania said.

Starting in 2011, the bill would eliminate domestic partnerships, although any couple already registered would have the option of keeping their partnership or converting it for free to a city-sanctioned marriage.

Naturally, anti-gay activists will do whatever they can to deny to gay people the rights that they hold so dear for themselves. But with Democratic majorities in both houses, this bill may not be subjected to a congressional veto.

Bishop Jackson is Back to Fighting Marriage in D.C.

Timothy Kincaid

September 1st, 2009

In July Bishop Harry Jackson of Maryland lost his battle to stop the District of Columbia from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in states where they are legal. The D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics ruled that such a referndom was in violation of the city\’s election code because it was not consistent with the District’s Human Rights Act.

Now he’s back with a request for a ballot initiative. (Washington Post)

The one-sentence initiative reads, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the District of Columbia.”

The legislature of the District has already indicated that it will propose and pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital. Jackson hopes this will stall the process.

A Sanctuary for LGBT African-Americans In DC

Jim Burroway

July 27th, 2009

Bishop Rainey Cheeks (in blue) prays with youth during a service at Inner Light Ministries (Nikki Kahn/Washington Post)

Bishop Rainey Cheeks (in blue) prays with youth during a service at Inner Light Ministries (Nikki Kahn/Washington Post)

This Sunday’s Washington Post highlighted Inner Light Ministries, a Black church in Northeast Washington, D.C., in which some two-thirds of the congregation are gay:

In the middle of a sermon, Bishop Rainey Cheeks felt his medicine bottle bulging in his pocket and realized he hadn’t taken his pills. He paused in the pulpit and faced the congregation in his tiny storefront church.

“Excuse me,” Cheeks remembers telling his parishioners last year as he poured three pills into his hand. “This is my HIV medicine. I’m going to take it now.”

As he washed down the pills with water, Cheeks saw some members staring with wide eyes. Everybody knew that their pastor, an imposing man with flowing dreadlocks who once competed in taekwondo championships, is gay. But not everyone knew that he is HIV-positive.

Inner Light Ministries is providing an important sanctuary for Black gay people, who often feel rejected by both the African-American community as well as the LGBT community. The ministry also provides a vital link for those who are dealing with the additional prejudice and stigma associated with being HIV-positive. Bishop Cheeks is worried about the complacency the younger generation has about HIV/AIDS, which he sees as a dangerous mix of believing it to be “manageable” disease and believing that it’s what they deserve:

“Most messages . . . to young folk is if you’re gay or lesbian, you’re going to hell,” [Bishop Cheeks] said. “So why take responsibility if you’re already condemned?

“They need to understand God loves them. But they also need to be accountable for their sexual behavior. Not everything goes.”

Marriages Recognized in D.C.

Timothy Kincaid

July 7th, 2009

As of last midnight, residents and visitors to Washington D.C. are just a bit more equal. Those same-sex couples who married in any of the states (and, presumably, countries) in which it is legal now have their marriages recognized by the District.

Our heartfelt Congratulations!!

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this action by the City Council is that it received almost no attention by Congress.

In contrast to the city’s Domestic Partnership law, which was denied implementation from 1992 to 2002, opposition to the marriage recognition bill was assigned to Jason Chaffetz, a freshman congressman from Utah. Chaffetz spoke to the press a few times and promptly went back to whatever else he was doing. A bill by drafted by US Reps. Jim Jordan, (R – OH) and Dan Boren (D – OK) to define marriage in the District as between one man and one women gathered the support of 33 Congressmen, about 8% of the members.

This is particularly fascinating in that the out-of-state recognition bill was enacted as a trial balloon to test the will of Congress. Councilman Catania is expected to present a bill to legalize marriage in the Capital in the fall.

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.

Are Marriages Now Legal in D.C.?

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2009

It has now been 30 days since the Council of Washington, D.C. voted 12 – 1 to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed elsewhere. Congress’ window to veto the Council’s decision seems to have run out.

Does this then mean that D.C. residents can now take a five hour drive up I-95 and return to live in legally wedded bliss?

ANSWER: From our informed readers below: “Nope”

It appears to be legislative days, not calendar days. So D.C. residents still have time to rent the hall and plan the local reception for their out-of-state wedding.

New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?

Timothy Kincaid

May 8th, 2009

New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.

The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples

1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009

The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:

1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009

The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage

1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009

The order in which legal marriages were first performed

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

And should New Hampshire\’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.

The Current Status of Marriage Equality – 5/5/09

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2009

Green = marriage; Yellow = needs Governor signature

Green = marriage; Yellow = needs Governor signature

With marriage equality issues changing so very quickly, here’s where the current status stands (my apologies for any inaccuracies):

California – the State Supreme Court has until June 6 to announce whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008. There are mixed opinions on what the court will decide.

Colorado – The legislature passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Illinois – a bill has been introduced to enact Civil Unions. The bill is currently waiting for a House vote.

Maine – The House and the Senate have both passed a marriage bill. Tomorrow it goes before the Senate for final approval and then to Gov. John Baldacci, who is “keeping an open mind”. Anti-Gays will immediately seek a “People’s Veto”, a process by which an enacted bill can be placed before the voters for an up or down vote. They would need about 55,000 valid signatures by the first of September. It would be led by Michael Heath who has established his reputation in Maine as an extremist and a homophobe.

Nevada – The Senate passed a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage. It will go before the Assembly Judiciary on Friday. The Governor has promised to veto the bill but some sources say that there will be a compromise crafted before the legislature disbands in a month.

New Hampshire – The House and Senate have both passed a marriage bill. The Senate version had specific religious protections that were not in the House bill. The House Judiciary has approved the changes and they will go before a House vote tomorrow. The Governor has stated that he is opposed to gay marriage in the past but has not addresses this specific bill.

New York – A marriage bill has been introduced in the house. Log Cabin Republicans announced that they have found additional Republican support in the House for marriage. Senate Majority Leader Smith will not bring marriage to a vote in the Senate until adequate votes will assure its passage, which probably means that four to six Republicans will need to be convinced. Empire State Pride is doing polling in Republican districts and seeking to give them assurance that a vote for equality will not result in an election defeat.

Washington – a bill to upgrade the state\’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and House with large margins and will be signed by the Governor. A petition has been filed to put it to the voters.

District of Columbia – the Council voted to recognize out of state marriages. This bill will be signed by the Mayor and then Congress has 30 days to review and possibly overturn it by a majority vote in both houses and the signature of the President. A same-sex marriage bill is expected later this year.

Also see our last synopsis on April 9

DC Reaffirms Recognition of Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2009

In the first week of April the Council of Washington, D.C. unanimously voted to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in such as as where they are legal. Today, with a required second vote, they again passed the bill recognizing marriage by a 12 – 1 vote.

The sole dissent was Marion Barry, the one-time mayor who has been married four times, busted by the FBI for crack cocaine possession and use, indicted for tax evasion, and jailed for six months, who claimed that he was a “moral leader” by opposing marriage recognition. Barry said that black residents of the nation’s capital would not allow marriage to be recognized.

“All hell is going to break lose,” Barry said while speaking to reporters. “We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”

The bill will now advance to the mayor, a marriage supporter (NY Times)

The bill, which was approved by a 12-1 vote after an emotional debate, must first be signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a step that is considered a formality since he has already said he supports the measure. Then the committees in the House and Senate that oversee the District of Columbia would have 30 session days to review the law.

To overturn it, the House and Senate would have to send a joint resolution to President Obama for his signature. If Congress chooses not to take action within those 30 days, however, the law would automatically go into effect.

State Marriage Equality Update

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):

Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.

California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.

Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state\’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.

Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.

Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.

Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.

Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.

Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.

Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.

Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.

Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.

New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.

New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.

New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.

New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.

Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.

Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor\’s veto to pass marriage equality.

Washington – a bill to upgrade the state\’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.

West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.

Wisconsin – the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.

Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.

Nation’s Capital Votes to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

April 7th, 2009

Today the District of Columbia voted to recognize those same-sex marriages that are performed where legal. (WJLA)

An amendment that would recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of the District of Columbia has been unanimously approved by the D.C. Council, the office of At-Large Councilman David Catania confirmed to ABC 7 News Tuesday.

Although this bill does not allow for the recognition of marriages within the District, Catania plans a bill for later this spring or summer.

The D.C. Council does not have full authority over the laws of the nation’s capital. Congress can, and often does, interfere and block legislation that would impact the residents of Washington. The reaction to the decision made by the Council may well give us a predictor about the success of future efforts to overturn DOMA.

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