Friday, August 14, 2009

Washington DC Official Calls for Referendum on Marriage Equality

Recently, the District of Columbia passed a resolution allowing for the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed outside its jurisdiction. It faced stiff opposition by those crying for a public vote, but the resolution prevailed by overwhelming support from the D.C. Council and a decision by the election board as well as a D.C. Superior Court Judge ruling that a referendum would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act.

Considered a first step towards full recognition, a resolution is expected this fall that would legalize the performance of same-sex marriages within the capital itself.

However, opponents believe that this shouldn't left to public officials but should be decided by the people, an argument used against the earlier resolution.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Robert King of Ward 5 has sent a proposed resolution to each of the city’s 236 commissioners calling for a D.C. ballot initiative next year to decide whether same-sex marriage should be legalized or banned in the nation’s capitol, and he hopes a majority will sign on.

“The definition of marriage is too serious and too important an issue to leave in the hands of the politicians without consulting the will of the people,” King wrote in an Aug. 4 letter to his fellow ANC commissioners.

King's resolution doesn't take a stand on whether marriage equality is harmful, just reinforcing the argument that the people should decide.

Michael Crawford, chair of D.C. for Marriage, doesn't buy that.

“So really, what this is, is an attempt to go around our elected officials in order to attack gay and lesbian families,” Crawford said. “This has nothing to do with democracy or people having a vote because they clearly had a vote when they elected the members of the City Council and the mayor, the vast majority of whom supported us on marriage recognition.”

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