Wednesday, November 18, 2009

D.C. Marriage Equality Opponents File Lawsuit in an Attempt to Force Prop-8 Style Ballot Measure

Marriage equality opponents Bishop Harry Jackson and conservative group Alliance Defense Fund have filed a lawsuit against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics who ruled Tuesday that a Prop 8-style initiative called the "Marriage Initiative of 2009", which would have defined marriage as between one man and one women for the District, could not proceed.

“The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks in their press release. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote. ADF will defend the right of the residents of our nation’s capitol to participate in a legitimate democratic process in the district.”

They're claiming that they are defending the rights of voters. Hmm . . . defending the rights of some to take away the rights of others. Brilliant logic!

In July, Bishop Jackson attempted to get an initiative started to thwart the District's bill to recognize legal same-sex marriage performed outside its borders. Both the board and DC Superior Court Judge Retchin ruled against them, basing their decision on the District's Human Rights Act which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Today the Washington Post released a profile on Bishop Jackson, in which he admits that he always knew that the battle of the new bill to legalize marriage equality within D.C. itself would head to the Superior Court. "The Lord is in all this," the bishop claims. "All over the country, it's evident that the strategy of the radical gay movement is to work the courts and legislatures. It's gonna be a knock-down, drag-out legal situation."

This should raise some red flags. Back in July, when the bishop and fellow opponents lost their case in D.C.'s Superior Court, they opted out of appealing to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Yet it seems clear that they intend to this time and this could be biggest hurdle facing the District's marriage bill.

Back in 1995, it was this court that ruled in Dean vs. the District of Columbia against granting a gay couple a marriage license. Yet Superior Court Judge Retchin stated in her July ruling, "The Court in Dean did not consider whether the government could refuse to recognize the legal right of persons to remain married solely because of their sexual orientation. In fact, the Court in Dean could not have addressed this issue because when Dean was decided in 1995, no state had legalized same-sex marriage."

Hopefully the D.C. Court of Appeals agrees.

Further into the Washington Post piece, Bishop Jackson reiterates the illogical conclusions that the high crime and divorce rates in the African American community, which he claims undermines traditional family values, is due largely in part by abortions and gay marriages.

"I don't know of anybody black who says, 'I hate gay people.' We're more accepting generally. But you overlap that -- homosexuality and gay marriage -- with broken families, and we don't know how to put it back together."

OK. So my desire to marry my fiance is going to destroy family after family? My desire to have a family of my own is going to rip apart other families in D.C. and other parts of the country because . . . well, he doesn't really say. I understand that many men in the African American community are on the down-low, which sadly has caused many problems, including broken families and the spread of HIV. But this problem is completely separate from out gay couples wanting to make a lifetime, legally recognized commitment to their relationship. The bishop continues with some shoddy spinning by quipping that redefining marriage redefines family, which will send the black culture into a free fall.

But what the bishop ignores is the fact that same-sex couples have existed for thousands of years, and they have had families this entire time. Where's the destruction of society? Just because the LGBT civil rights movement has made the country more aware of their existence, doesn't mean they suddenly appeared out of nowhere and are a new, impending threat to what he calls "traditional values."

And if I remember correctly, we're not the ones that redefined marriage in the law books of 31 states as "between one man and one woman." Before, this distinction wasn't made, which is why same-sex couples demanded marriage certificates and why the courts ordered they be given. It took anti-LGBT forces to redefine the legal, civil definition of marriage, to actively bar LGBT citizens from marrying.

Just saying.

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