Last week the District of Columbia’s Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) rejected, for the third time, a request by five D.C. citizens to put the issue of same-sex marriage to a popular vote.
If the Board’s decision is upheld by the D.C. Superior Court and appeals fail, only the U.S. Congress will be able to ensure that a vote occurs before the same-sex marriage law approved by the D.C. Council takes effect early next month. Advocates of the traditional definition of marriage, represented by the public interest law firm Alliance Defense Fund, immediately filed an appeal of the BOEE ruling last Friday, and they are seeking an expedited ruling on the public’s right to vote under the D.C. Charter.
Now it appears that a solid majority of D.C. citizens, including a sizable number of supporters of same-sex marriage, favor allowing the people of the District of vote on the issue. In a poll conducted by The Washington Post published on Sunday, 59% of D.C. adults said that they favor allowing the people of the city to vote on the issue. This despite the fact that, according to the poll, 56% of D.C. residents favor same-sex marriage and only 35% are opposed. There is also a racial split among D.C. adults. Eighty-three percent of D.C.’s white residents favor same-sex marriage, while only 37% of black D.C. residents do. The poll had a sample size of 1,135 and a margin of error of plus or minus three percent.
Adding to the pressure for a vote is new legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and the U.S. Senate by Robert Bennett (R-UT), which would disallow implementation of the same-sex marriage law until the people of D.C. have had a change to vote on the measure. Thirty-one other U.S. jurisdictions have exercised that option and rejected same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Residents of the nation’s capital should enjoy that same option, regardless of the outcome on Election Day.