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Same Sex Marriages News


February 26, 2010


It's official "Same Sex Marriage is now legal in DC starting March 3, 2010






February 3, 2010


DC’s Lone Voice In Congress Opposes Attempt To Overturn DC Marriage Equality Law

by Bridgette P. LaVictoire


“Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington DC’s Congressional Delegate, has issued a statement against the attempt by Utah’s Congressional delegation to overturn DC’s recent marriage law. The push by Utah’s Congressional delegation is to try and make it so that DC would be forced to hold a vote on the issue of marriage equality even though the courts have already ruled that DC cannot hold a referendum on marriage equality.


Representative Norton stated:


“Disregarding the most basic of American self-government principles, House, and now Senate Members of Congress, are trying to overturn same-sex marriage legislation in the District of Columbia, although it does not, in any way, affect their state or any Americans except our own residents. Opponents will not succeed in Congress because the Democratic majority in the House and Senate exercise principled respect for the District’s home rule right to determine its own local laws for its residents. Marriage is a fundamental right in the District, as elsewhere in America, not a political football to be used or abused to score points back home at the expense of the people of the District, and of democratic principles.”


Representative Norton is able to vote in committees, and to speak on the House floor, but is not allowed to cast final votes on legislation. Voting rights for Washington DC is an issue that has been fairly thorny over the years. While DC is subject to the laws passed by Congress, they do not have a full vote in passing those laws.


The constant push by those opposed to marriage equality to hold votes on the subject is often linked to attempts to scare people into voting against the LGBT Community. Vermont saw a push to have a vote on this issue, but that was defeated in the Legislature. Iowans may get to vote on marriage equality sometime in 2014 if those opposed to marriage equality in that state are able to engineer a Republican majority large enough in the next two elections to get a ballot measure initiated.”



January 15, 2010


D.C. judge rules against marriage referendum

By Tim Craig Washington Post Staff Writer

"A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage opponents do not have a right to call for a referendum to determine whether such unions should be legal in the District.

The decision, a major victory for gay rights activists, makes it more likely that the District will begin allowing same-sex couples to marry in March.

In the 23-page ruling, Judge Judith N. Macaluso affirmed a D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics decision that city law disallows the ballot proposal because it would promote discrimination against gay men and lesbians. Macaluso also concluded that previous court decisions outlawing same-sex marriage in the District are no longer valid.

Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the sponsor of the D.C. Council same-sex marriage bill signed last month by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), called the decision "thorough and far-reaching."

"The ruling, which addressed the substantive legal issues before the court, sustains the District's tradition of treating all citizens equally under the law," Catania said.

The election board has twice ruled that a referendum on same-sex marriage would violate a city election law prohibiting such a vote on a matter covered by the Human Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination against gays and other minority groups.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, appealed that ruling to Superior Court. Last week, 39 members of Congress filed a brief in support of Jackson's appeal, arguing that the election board overstepped its authority in denying a public vote on whether marriage should be defined as a being between a man and a woman.

Jackson and his attorneys said Thursday that they will appeal Macaluso's ruling. They contend that that the laws in question were written in the late 1970s, long before same-sex marriage was an issue, and should not prevent a referendum.

"We are fighting for justice and defending the rights of the people of the District of Columbia," Jackson said. "We have always anticipated that our quest for voting rights on the issue of marriage would end up in our higher appeals court, and today's ruling confirms that is where the issue is headed."

In her decision, Macaluso stated the board "properly rejected the proposed initiative" because of the Human Rights Act. The judge also rejected arguments that same-sex marriage should be illegal in the District because of the 1995 Dean v. District of Columbia decision.

In that case, the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the city did not have to recognize same-sex marriage because the government's intent to oppose such marriages was clear. Now, Macaluso concluded, the intent of the government in favor of allowing two men or two women to marry is clear.

"These clear manifestations of intent to alter the traditional definition of marriage did not exist when Dean was decided," the judge wrote. "Dean expressly relied upon the absence of such indications in concluding that the Council intended to retain the definition of marriage as occurring only between a man and a woman.

"Under these circumstances, Dean's holding is no longer controlling."

Despite opponents' plans to appeal, they are running out of time to block same-sex marriages in the District. Congress has begun the required 30-legislative-day review of the same-sex marriage law.

City leaders said that, barring intervention by Congress, marriage licenses will be available to same-sex couples around the first week of March."


January 11, 2010


D.C.'s same-sex marriage bill now before Congress

By Gene Fynes


"Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) announced Monday that the countdown to legalized same-sex marriage in the District has begun.


In a statement, Norton said a bill approved by the D.C. Council last month has arrived on Capitol Hill. Congress will have 30 legislative days to review it. The bill becomes law immediately after that review period has ended.


Depending on how many days Congress is in session next month, the bill could become law in late February or March.


For the bill to be rejected, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, as well as President Obama, would all have to agree on a disapproval resolution. Same-sex marriage supporters, who noted that Congress has enacted only three disapproval resolutions in the past 30 years, do not believe the Democratic-majority will allow the bill to be blocked.


In her statement, Norton said she has already done the "initial work to close the gates on overturning" the bill.


"This bill should not be on the Hill at all," Norton said. "Home rule is all or it is nothing. We can't pick and choose when Congress can intervene."


Even if Congress stays out, there is a chance that opponents can succeed in convincing a court to require that the city put the issue before voters. There is also a chance that a future Congress could push to restrict same-sex marriage in the District, although supporters believe that would be a politically difficult move once those marriages have starting taking place."



December 16, 2009

D.C. Council approves same-sex marriage bill

By Tim Craig Washington Post Staff Writer

"The District was on the verge Tuesday of becoming the sixth place in the country to legalize same-sex marriage after the council gave final approval to its bill allowing the unions.

The legislation would allow gay couples from anywhere in the country to marry in the city. Those couples who live in the District would be entitled to all rights afforded to heterosexual married couples under District laws.

Although a final signature on the bill by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) could come by the end of the week, same-sex marriage opponents vowed to step up their effort to get Congress or a court to block the initiative during the 30-day congressional review period.

The 11 to 2 council decision, which caps a nearly year-long debate, set off a wave of excitement across the gay community, both locally and nationally. "In many ways, this is the final prize," said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), one of two people on the council who are openly gay.

According to an analysis by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, more than 10,000 same-sex couples from across the country could get married in the District over the next three years if the measure becomes law.

The analysis, created in the weeks leading up to Tuesday's historic council vote, estimates that 2,000 gay couples who live in the District will marry shortly after the law takes effect. But the bulk of the weddings, which could pump millions of dollars into the regional economy, would probably be out-of-state couples unable to marry in their own states, according to the analysis, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. It concludes that at least $5 million, and perhaps as much as $22 million, would be generated by same-sex weddings in the District over the next three years.

Local and national gay rights leaders note that opponents face a difficult fight: Both the Democratic-controlled House and Senate and President Obama would all have to block the legislation, which is unlikely.

But council member David A. Catania (I-At Large), the bill's sponsor and the other openly gay member on the council, cautioned that Congress also could unravel the measure through budget maneuvers in future years.

"There is no question: We are going to have to be defending it and defending it and defending it until the other side realizes they are losing more votes by being tethered to the past," Catania said.

Several opponents of same-sex marriage warned that the celebrations were premature. They are seeking a public vote on the issue, and some are meeting with members of Congress on Wednesday.

"God's war has just started," Bob King, a community activist who lives in Northeast, said a few minutes after the vote. "Shame on them. We're going to get to the ballot box through either the courts or the Congress. So tell everyone: Don't let the marriage licenses start flowing."

Still, same-sex marriage supporters heralded the council's action, saying it helps the movement rebound from the stinging defeat suffered two weeks ago when the New York Senate rejected same-sex marriage.

"This is a place people come to see the Constitution and understand what it means to be equal, so symbolically this means a great deal," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group that co-sponsored a party with the council Tuesday night.

Same-sex marriages are legal in Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts, and next month, New Hampshire joins the list.

In the weeks leading to the council's vote, the Archdiocese of Washington was engaged in a campaign to try to amend the bill because it feared that it would force its charities to extend spousal benefits to same-sex couples. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the committee that oversaw the legislation, said he was unable to reach an agreement with the church that would not lead to discrimination against same-sex couples, but church and city officials said they will continue their talks.

Deacon Maccubbin, the owner of the Lambda Rising bookstore in Dupont Circle, held a commitment ceremony with his partner 28 years ago but plans to rush off to get officially married as soon as it is allowed here.

"We have done the church wedding, but we want to have the license, right here in the District of Columbia," Maccubbin said.

But Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com in Arlington County, said many in the region's gay community are cautious, knowing that it could be months before gay marriage is legal in the District. Hamm, whose company helps engaged couples find gay-friendly wedding vendors, among other services, said she expects a surge in interest in the new year.

During Tuesday's council debate, members said their decision will tell the world that the District values equal and civil rights.

"Today, I am very proud of our city," said council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). "I hope today we serve as beacon for those who have not been given full rights across our country."

Council members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who represent neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, voted against the bill.

Barry said he could not support the legislation because he thinks that a majority of his constituents oppose it but acknowledged that the council was making history.

"This must be a proud day for you, David, Mr. Graham," said Barry. "Just as it was a proud day for me when the voting rights bill was passed in 1965. But this is a democracy, and I reserve the right to disagree."

Staff writer Sandhya Somashekhar contributed to this report.




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