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  • DC Voters: Let Us Vote on Marriage

    Last Wednesday, several DC voters filed a lawsuit (PDF) asking the DC Superior Court to allow DC residents to vote on whether same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions should be recognized in the District. The lawsuit followed a ruling from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics that DC residents should not be allowed to vote on whether same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions should be recognized in DC.

    In May, the DC Council passed legislation that would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Individuals who support marriage as the union of husband and wife argued that the DC Council should have sought more public input before pushing through such controversial legislation. To give DC residents a greater say in the marriage policy of the District, several DC voters proposed that the District hold a referendum on the question and allow DC residents to vote.

    That referendum proposal was shot down recently by two unelected bureaucrats sitting on the DC Board of Elections and Ethics, the DC agency charged with deciding whether a proposed referendum presents a proper subject for the referendum process. The two-member panel reasoned that allowing DC residents to vote on whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions would authorize or have the effect of authorizing discrimination in violation of the District’s Human Rights Act, which treats sexual orientation as a protected class in the District. A 1995 DC Court of Appeals decision had concluded that the Human Rights Act did not create a right to same-sex marriage, but the Board concluded that certain changes in DC law meant that case did not control the outcome of the Board’s decision. Because the DC Code does not permit a referendum that would authorize or have the effect of authorizing discrimination in violation of the Human Rights Act, the Board ruled that DC voters could not vote on whether to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

    The lawsuit filed last week asks the DC Superior Court to review the Board’s ruling and to issue a “writ in the nature of mandamus” that would compel the Board to accept the referendum proposal. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, proponents of the referendum would then be required to circulate a petition and secure the signatures of five percent of the registered voters in the District, including five percent of the registered voters in at least five of the eight wards. Once a petition was submitted by proponents and accepted by the Board, no further action could be taken on the legislation until after a referendum was held. If a majority of voters participating in the referendum disapproved of the legislation recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, the legislation would be deemed rejected and the DC Council would be prohibited from taking any action with regard to that matter for one year.

    Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include Bishop Harry R. Jackson and several other DC voters. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a public-interest legal organization dedicated to defending certain principles including religious liberty and marriage as the union of husband and wife.

    According to Brian Raum, Senior Legal Counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, “Marriage didn’t violate the Human Rights Act when the HRA passed 32 years ago, and it doesn’t now. That is simply a political argument meant to prevent the people from voting.” Raum states that “[m]arriage pre-existed the Human Rights Act by centuries in the district. They have co-existed for a generation without conflict . . . . The HRA has never required the redefinition of marriage or the recognition of non-marriages. Opponents of the referendum have twisted a law to impose their agenda without the people’s consent.”

    Bishop Jackson, who is the senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville and one of the DC voters named as a plaintiff in the suit, stated, “We are not going to sit by and allow an unelected board of bureaucrats to deny voters their rightful say on this issue and, by their action, allow the institution of marriage and the entire structure of our society to be radically redefined.” Reverend Walter E. Fauntroy, another of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, described the decision of the Board of Elections and Ethics as “an insult to every voter in the District of Columbia” and said it “must be legally challenged, as we are doing.”

    The DC Council’s decision to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions is widely regarded as a “first step” toward allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Some council members have said the legislation is the first step toward eventually allowing gay marriage in Washington.” And the Washington Post predicts that the decision by the DC Board of Elections and Ethics to deny DC residents an opportunity to vote on whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions “will probably embolden the D.C. Council to take up a separate proposal this year to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. David A. Catania (I-At Large) said he plans to introduce the legislation in the fall.”

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    16 Responses to DC Voters: Let Us Vote on Marriage

    1. Pingback: DC Voters: Let Us Vote on Marriage « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    2. atty79, St. Helens says:

      Can we vote on your marriage next? How about your right to practice religion? How about your right to sue? Heck, how about your right to vote? After all, if we get to vote on other's rights, why stop at marriage that doesn't affect you?

    3. Kay Gilmour - Missou says:

      This is truly an insult to every voter in the District of Columbia. As a nation we were founded on Christianity and this does not in any way conform to what we were founded on based upon our belief in the Bible. I certainly have no problem with same sex unions, but I do have a problem with the term "Marriage"! And regardless of the outcome of this extreme liberal fight, no one can legislate God out of their moral value system. I do not dislike gay's, but believe that they are wrong to assume that legislation will correct what they believe to be their problem. I pray for them.

    4. Yvonne Naples fl says:

      Legislation, does not change or make

      right anything that does not conform to our Christian foundation.

      Marriage is between Male and Female,

      since the creation of Earth.

    5. Pingback: Tragedy on the Red Line: Loose Lips Daily - City Desk - Washington City Paper

    6. Roger Blansit Michi says:

      This country was not established as a Christian nation, however,

      denying ten percent of our citizens their right to marry by voting is unconstitutional, mean spirited and ultimately wrong.

      Religion has nothing to do with the legal privileges and benefits that go along with marriage.

      In ten or twenty years, it will be just as politically incorrect to deny gays their rights as it is now to do the same for blacks or other minorities.

    7. cynthia fraser seatt says:

      i just get tired of hearing bout it. boo hoo in my state [life partners] can be on each others insurance. i cant do it and i have been with my boyfriend 18 yrs.

    8. Dan, Va says:

      America not a Christian Nation? That's Baloney.

      "Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the world, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day [the Fourth of July]?" “Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity"? John Adams

      "This view, that we were a Christian nation, was hold for almost 150 years until the Everson v. Board of Education ruling in 1947. Before that momentous ruling, even the Supreme Court knew that we were a Christian nation. In 1892 the Court stated:

      'No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is a religious people…This is a Christian nation.'

      This court went on to cite 87 precedents (prior actions, words, and rulings) to conclude that this was a "Christian nation".

      'In 1854, the House Judiciary Committee said: "in this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.'

      For the last 70 years the relativist view has been the prevailing view. But don;t buy it. They're wrong. The history of the US for 150 years doesn't support the idea that we are not a Christian nation. The opposite is true.

    9. Centaur, Purcellvill says:

      Important to this conversation is the point that our Founders were not united in their belief (some of them were not Christians), but their actions in setting up our government came from a Christian worldview which permeated their society. Regardless of whether the majority of Americans today are Christians or not, our country is what it is today because of a strong Christian base providing rules regarding right and wrong.

      Our nation is not a "Christian nation" in the sense that it is fully Christian or (I would argue) should be composed only of Christian people. Yet is is a "Christian nation" in that it has been formed and nurtured by and with a heritage which is distinctly Christian.

    10. Pingback: ADF Alliance Alert » DC Voters: Let Us Vote on Marriage

    11. BruSays says:

      When we wish to reveal whether this nation was founded as a Christian nation we need look no further than the U.S. Constitution.

      Nowhere, nowhere, nowhere in that document does it state this nation is founded as a Christian nation. The words Christianity, Christian, Christ, Jesus, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Baptist…non are mentioned or even implied anywhere in that docucument.

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

      End of story. That this nation was NOT founded as a Christian nation is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact.

      To those who cherry-pick court rulings here, or court rulings there – anyone could bring out an even longer, but equally irrelevant list where courts made contrary statements.

    12. dennis florida says:

      marriage has been a legal commitment between a man and a woman for centuries.why now are we debating the issue.if we change marriage for same sex couples, why not change it for three or more people to be joined in matrimony. or maybe your dog or your cat.or your favorite car or truck. it seems to me that it has been working pretty good the way it is…so why change it.

    13. Deb from Oho says:

      Everyone realizes that any sexual union taking place beyond the natural way our bodies are made is counterfeit.

      A man and a woman being married, having babies, is the correct union, the other is perverse. Our government and country are perverse in saying gay unions are acceptable. Forget political correctness, tell the truth.

    14. Dave, Japan says:

      The definition of marriage in the dictionary is:

      "The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife."

      I think we should stand by this.

      That said, I do not dislike gay or lesbian people and I have a few friends who have decided to live that lifestyle. I strongly disapprove of same-sex relationships but we must be kind to ALL of God's children.

      One thing I lament for same-sex couples is that they will never be able to enjoy having a child between themselves and understand how much joy that brings into one's life. Adoption is a labor of love but having a child between husband and wife brings inexplicable joy beyond anything one who has not experienced this can imagine.

    15. CG, NJ says:

      –and I have a few friends who have decided to live that lifestyle.– Nobody decides to be gay, they just are

    16. CG, NJ says:

      –One thing I lament for same-sex couples is that they will never be able to enjoy having a child between themselves and understand how much joy that brings into one’s life. Adoption is a labor of love but having a child between husband and wife brings inexplicable joy beyond anything one who has not experienced this can imagine.– Come again?

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