Tuesday, June 16, 2009

D.C.'s Elections Board Ruling Paves the Way for Same-Sex Marriage Recognition in District

On Monday DC's Board of Elections & Ethics ruled that only Congress or the courts can intervene on the District's city council's vote to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in the states, effectively killing the call for a voter referendum on the matter.

Citing the District's 1977 Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination against lesbian and gays and other minorities, the board confirmed same-sex couples who marry in other states or countries will be considered legally married in the District in less than a month, unless a court intervenes or Congress during the review period.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress is not expected to interfere.

"The Referendum's proposers would, in contravention of the HRA, strip same-sex couples of the rights and responsibilities of marriage that they were afforded by virtue of entering into valid marriages elsewhere," the ruling states. "Because the Referendum would authorize discrimination prohibited by the HRA, it is not a proper subject for referendum, and may not be accepted by the Board."

Maryland's Bishop Jackson, who literally found a place in D.C. to live for the sole purpose of overturning the marriage equality advancement through referendum, found the ruling to be an "insult."

"The real human rights issue at stake in this decision is whether the people of D.C. will be given their right to vote," Jackson told the Washington Post. "We are not going to sit still for allowing an unelected board of bureaucrats to deny voters their rightful say on this issue and, by their action, allow the institution of marriage to be radically redefined."

The marriage equality law, if undisputed, will become law in July. Same-sex marriage remains illegal under federal law, and same-sex couples are prohibited from marrying in the District.

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