Sunday, October 25, 2009

Washington D.C. Marriage Equality Hearing Expects 269 People to Testify

Due to D.C. Councilman David Catania submitting a marriage equality bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital, several hearings on marriage equality will be held in Washington D.C. in the coming weeks, two to be held this Monday, October 26.

First on Monday, starting at 10am, marriage equality opponents led by Maryland's Bishop Harry Jackson and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), will speak at the D.C.'s Board of Elections & Ethics hearing, urging them to grant their request for a Prop 8 style ballot initiative so that D.C. residents can vote on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage to be performed. (Get info to attend!)

When the City Council voted in May to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside its borders, Bishop Jackson failed to get an initiative off the ground to stop them, with the same Elections board turning him down. This time, he wants to avoid the marriages being performed in the District at all.

Jackson has faced harsh criticism for meddling in the District's affairs and not even being a resident.

At 3:30pm the City Council will begin one of two separate public hearings on the marriage equality bill itself (not to consider an initiative). Due to over 269 witnesses on both sides expected to testify, and with it being the largest public hearing since City Council member Phil Mendelson can remember, the board has decided to split the hearing in two, the second being on Monday, November 2.

This Monday's hearing will have the first 100 testimonies.

The DCist reports that each speaker will only get 3 minutes each. As for this Monday, "Bob Summersgill and Rick Rosendall, two local gay rights activists, open up the proceedings. Bob King, the Ward 5 ANC commissioner who has been part of the push for a referendum goes 7th, followed by Kathryn Pearson-West, a resident who has strongly sided with the pro-referendum forces in repeated postings to local online newsletters. Our favorite, Bishop Harry Jackson, will speak 14th, while influential gay Ward 8 activist Phil Pannell goes in the #45 slot. As for organizational showing, the Human Rights Campaign is flexing some muscle with six of the 100 testimonies."

The Council’s Committee on Public Safety & Judiciary will hold the hearing in the City Council chambers on the fifth floor of the John Wilson City Hall Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Co-Chairs of D.C. for Marriage Michael Crawford and Hilary Treat wrote to members and residents, "Anti-equality activists led by National Organization for Marriage are pressuring members of the City Council to support a Prop 8 style ballot fight to ban marriage for same-sex couples. That makes telling our stories all the more important. By sharing our stories, we'll be making the most powerful case for marriage equality yet."

If you plan to attend and support marriage equality, show your support by wearing red.


  1. What a shame. Its a disgrace to put the rights of so many up to popular vote! How many bygone persecutions and denials of rights have been "popular" in their time? Too many! The time for Gay rights to be denied on the basis of what Religious or Political organizations have on their agenda should end NOW. In the coming years,when Gay marriage is legal..I will only look back and thank all of those who stood up for what is right and just...regardless of whether or not they agreed or disagreed with my lifestyle. That is the true measure of "we the people".

  2. I wish I could be there to show support! But I'll be trapped in a place called high school. I suppose I'll just wear red tomorrow and listen for the results.