Tuesday, December 1, 2009

D.C. Council Approves Marriage Equality; Second Vote to Come

In a vote 11-2, the D.C. Council approved the marriage equality bill. A standard second vote is scheduled in two weeks and then the bill must get past a 30-day Congressional review period; however, Congress is not expected to intervene, just as they didn't when the council voted to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside their jurisdiction.

“Republicans say it is unlikely they could attract enough Democrats to overturn the law,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

“What a splendid moment this is for all of us,” said Council member Jim Graham (D – Ward 1). “When one of us is denied a right, we are all denied the right.”

This is the good news I've been needing to hear.

Now I just want to see the look on Bishop Harry Jackson, Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown's faces.

As late as yesterday, the Catholic Church leadership in D.C. were still trying to negotiate compromises in the bill. It remains to be seen if they will follow up on their threat to end their charities in the capital.

According to Bob Summersgill on Twitter, lead sponsor David Catania said the bill is still open to amendments, but as of right now, unless they change their policy on not granting their public gay employees spousal benefits, Catholic Charities will be in violation of the law.

Summersgill also reports that council member Marion Barry, who voted against marriage equality, wants a public vote and said that anyone who opposes him on this vote opposes democracy. Bishop Harry Jackson and the National Organization for Marriage has appealed the D.C. Board of Elections ruling against their request for a ballot initiative.

Our Families Count reports that D.C. has the largest percentage of same-sex couples in the country with 1.5%, doubling any other state. This is roughly equivalent to 3,600 couples. Opposition would face a stiff challenge at the ballot box.

Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry said in response, "Today, the District of Columbia’s City Council listened to their constituents and overwhelmingly voted in support of protecting families throughout the District, the first of two votes needed by the council to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage. A majority of voters, and families, from across New York and New Jersey now look to their representatives in the state legislature to do the right thing and vote in support of the freedom to marry. As research has shown, by voting for the freedom to marry for gay couples, legislators in these states will continue to be re-elected just as every other state legislator who has voted in support of marriage equality and ran for re-election."

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