Council paves way for gay marriage in District of Columbia

Voters in an “all but marriage” domestic partnership referendum in Washington State and a direct vote on gay marriage in Maine will reshape the debate on this issue in just 26 days.

Washington, D.C. may have already decided without voter input.

The D.C. Council paved the way for that reality – like it nor not – on Tuesday. Ten of the council 13 members signed on to a bill drafted by David Catania, who is openly gay. The number of signatories virtually guarantees it will pass.

According to The Washington Post, Congress has 30 legislative days to strike down the law, which would put a final vote on it in December. There is little political movement from neither Democrats nor Republicans to actively try and reject the law.

Standing in the way is Bishop Harry Jackson of Beltsville, Md., who is awaiting an Oct. 26 hearing by the D.C. Election Board to move toward a citywide referendum on gay marriage. An attempt to derail Catania presenting the bill to begin with was defeated by a D.C. Superior Court judge this summer.

In a July interview with Everyday Christian, Jackson was adamant that allowing gay marriage in the nation’s capital would fly in the face of the District’s predominantly African-American population.

“You can just look at someone and tell if they are black or Hispanic and understand discriminating by appearance,” he said. “Being gay is a behavior. It’s a lifestyle choice that has been made.

“In that context you can’t marry your relatives; you can’t have a 60 year-old marrying a 6-year-old and so forth. Society has said we hold marriage to such a high standard that it has been a benefit to our culture that it is valid in specific cases.”

Whether you agree with Jackson or not, there are two undeniable facts to consider as the debate moves forward:

1. The symbolic value to gay marriage advocates of having the seat of American power validate the philosophy, and,

2. The fact that D.C. would join five other states in having approved gay marriage, none of them would have been by direct voter approval.

The second point alone is reason why if you live in Washington State or Maine, regardless of your stance, your voice needs to be heard Nov.3.

Be First to Comment

  1. jdblue82 said:

    It would have been nice if the author had even tried to present a balanced piece. There are plenty of faith leaders, Christian or otherwise, in Washington state, D.C., and Maine who support marriage equality. Aside from that, I would point out that Bishop Jackson’s logic makes little sense. Regardless of whether or not a person chooses their orientation/lifestyle, he is conveniently forgetting that other choices are Constitutionally protected. Like religion. No one is born a Christian (though I know plenty who were “born again”–another story entirely) and no one is born a Republican. Yet our Constitution protects the equal treatment of each of those groups under the law. Without subjecting them to a popular vote. But if you want to argue that might makes right, and a popular vote is necessary to validate a person’s civil rights, lets examine our history, shall we? Were slaves freed by popular vote? Not in this country. Were Native Americans recognized as free and fully equal via popular vote? No. Were the laws enabling race-based segregation struck down by popular vote? No. Were anti-miscegenation laws invalidated by popular vote? Nope. Popular sentiment fueled discrimination in each of these cases. Popular sentiment helped Klansmen get away with cross- and church-burnings. Popular sentiment allowed Cotton Mather and the Salem Witch Trials to perpetrate grave injustices in our colonial past. Popular sentiment enabled laws that banned not only interracial marriage but also interdenominational marriage. “Direct voter approval” is not a good in and of itself. History has shown fairly clearly that an idea’s popularity has nothing to do with its justice or lack thereof.

    October 8, 2009
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  2. PolishBear said:

    Since when do voters get to decide that the rights that apply to them DO NOT apply to minorities? If the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been put up for a popular vote in the Deep South, they’d probably still have segregated schools, swimming pools and drinking fountains, and Blacks would still be forced to sit in the back of the bus. I agree with “jdblue82” above. Just because a law or institution is popular or “traditional” does not necessarily mean it is constitutional. As for marriage, there is no legal justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the exact same legal benefits and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted. There is no other option under the 14th Amendment.

    October 10, 2009
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  3. ChuckGGG said:

    I have to agree with the two comments above. In D.C. there is a law stating that human rights cannot be stripped away by a majority popular vote. Oddly, in D.C., where there is an 85% African-American population, there is a good deal of push-back on same-sex marriage and a push to “put the vote to the people.” During a public DC Council meeting, after all the anti people spoke, one of the council members produced a copy of some century or more old voting records for DC. The question at the time was something along the lines of, “Shall voting rights [or some right – forgotten] be extended to free black males in DC.” The results of the vote was a resounding “NO” by some 4000+ to 7 vote count. The once noisy audience was dead quiet. Rightly so, they had no response. Depriving human rights to others is unacceptable. As stated, if the 1964 vote had not occurred, the south might still have blacks riding in the back of busses. We all know that eventually, in another decade or two, same-sex marriage will be all very ho-hum just as inter-racial and inter-faith marriages are now. It will be the law of the land and the USA finally will join the scores of other countries where same-sex marriage is already recognized today.

    November 3, 2009
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