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  • DC Court Rules No Right of Initiative on Marriage

    In May 2009 the District of Columbia City Council passed legislation to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the city. When Councilmember Marion Barry opposed that legislation, fellow councilmember David Catania called Barry’s position “bigoted.”

    Today the D.C. Court of Appeals, which is the District’s version of a state supreme court, endorsed the idea that support for marriage as the union of husband and wife is a form of bigotry and discrimination.

    In an opinion issued this morning, the D.C. Court of appeals rejected an appeal brought by Bishop Harry Jackson and others that sought to recognize the right of D.C. voters to vote on marriage.

    In September 2009, Bishop Jackson and others filed a proposed marriage initiative with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics that would have given voters the opportunity to support the position that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.”

    The movement to protect the right of D.C. voters to vote on marriage became more urgent after the D.C. Council passed a second piece of legislation in December 2009 that, instead of merely recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, authorized the recognition of same-sex ceremonies conducted in the District itself.

    However, D.C. residents wishing to vote on marriage were quickly thwarted by the unelected bureaucrats who sit on the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, who ruled that the pro-marriage initiative could not proceed because it would authorize or have the effect of authorizing “discrimination” in violation of D.C.’s Human Rights Act.

    Today the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed that conclusion. The court wrote that it had “no difficulty” concluding that Bishop Jackson’s marriage initiative would authorize or have the effect of authorizing “discrimination” in violation of the act. The dissenting judges, including the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, expressed the stark concern that excluding the subject of marriage from the people’s right of initiative could lead to additional limitations of that right in the future.

    This opinion follows closely on a federal court decision issued in Massachusetts last week that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. According to the judge in that case, only “irrational prejudice” and “animus” could have motivated the pro-marriage law.

    Suggestions that only “irrational prejudice” could motivate support for marriage reinforces the concern held by many people that same-sex marriage threatens religious liberty. Arguments for same-sex marriage are often based on the idea that defining marriage as the union of husband and wife is a form of bigotry, irrational prejudice, and even hatred against homosexual persons. As this ideology seeps into the culture more generally—reinforced by judges and lawmakers declaring support for marriage to be a form of irrational discrimination—individuals and institutions that support marriage as the union of husband and wife risk paying a price for that belief in many legal, social, economic, and cultural contexts.

    More fundamentally, however, court rulings that impose same-sex marriage alter marriage’s “core meaning, for to redefine marriage so that it is not intrinsically related to the relationship between fathers, mothers, and children would sever the institution from its nature and purpose” . It is imperative for the American people, at every level of government and in every way necessary, to redouble their efforts in defense of the institution of marriage.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    18 Responses to DC Court Rules No Right of Initiative on Marriage

    1. Brad, Los Angeles says:

      Americans, rightly so, did not vote to give African Americans civil rights nor to give women the right to vote. It is a matter for the courts as a majority can discriminate against a disadvantaged minority. Even the four dissenting judges agreed that voting on the issue offered the potential for discrimination. Let"s face it, we don't like the idea of gays marrying because we are biased against them. And I don't buy the argument that kids are better off without gay marriage. My kids wouldn't be affected in the least. Gay couples are allowed to adopt/raise kids whether they are married or not. The states have a definite interest in those kids (as do we) and they would be better off with the added stability that marriage would bring to their families. Be blessed.

    2. Tim Pozner says:

      It strikes me as so odd that certain religions (not all) are resisting a change that will bring marriage to many more people who simply wish to live, love, and support eachother as a family. I honestly don't understand the resistance. When has a gay marriage ever harmed someone else's marriage? Personally I have never heard a logical answer to this question.

    3. Randall Holland, Ari says:

      If you change the definition of marriage for one group you must change it for all groups. Can you say polygamy.

    4. Tim AZ says:

      A legal document such as a marriage license cannot compel anyone to live, love, and support each other as a family. All these things are the responsibility of the individuals involved. A piece of paper is in no way capable of any of the above actions. A piece of paper can't compel any individual to accept another's differences. Accept your differences first instead of expecting everyone else to do it for you. It is not important what others think of you but that you are comfortable with who you are. Then surround yourself with like minded people.

    5. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Americans did give blacks and woman the right to vote when they amended the U.S. Constitution through their elected state and federal representatives. In the case of black voting rights, the courts did not fully abide by the 15th amendment until nearly 100 years later. The courts are not always as clean and pure as the wind-driven snow. They are not always the last line of defense.

      I don't believe that gays are being discriminated against with state traditional marriage statutes and amendments. All men and woman, gay or straight, black or white, are allowed to marry; states simply define the bounds, as with many other issues, such as age, relation, gender, etc. Are two twelve year olds or two first cousins, even if they love each other, being discriminated against if the state does not grant them a marriage license? Real discrimination, for example, is not allowing interracial marriage.

      Furthermore, I don't believe that the 14th amendment's "priveleges and immunities" or "equal protection" clauses apply here since the U.S. Constitution is silent on marriage. A driver's license is a privelege that can be revoked by the state; would I have standing in federal court under the 14th amendment if I was denied my license? Equal protection of the laws simply means justice not equality of outcomes.

      One more note on discrimination. Are the "rich" being dicriminated against when their income is taxed at a higher rate than that of the "poor"? How about when you pay school property taxes when your kids are no longer in school or even if you don't even have kids? On the other end, how about when the full income of the "rich" is not taxed under Social Security? Government at all levels discriminates in a legion of areas of our lives. Let's talk about these too.

    6. Chris, Springfield, says:

      If you accept that homosexuality exists and is simply not a deviant choice an individual is making, then it seems only natural to allow gays to marry. Why wouldn't homosexuals experience the same desire to marry that heterosexuals have? They're people like us and grew up in the same environment we did and only naturally would want the ability to enter into the same type of committed relationship they experienced between their parents.

      Maybe heterosexuals would understand it better if states went in an opposite direction and eliminated marriage laws and replaced them with civil union laws. 'Marriage' would strictly be a religious concept.

    7. Dave, Newberg Oregon says:

      "When has a gay marriage ever harmed someone else’s marriage? Personally I have never heard a logical answer to this question."

      That's easy. Of course gay marriage does not hurt my marriage today. But it hurts the institution of marriage in the long run. Over time, as we broaden the definition of marriage to mean everything, eventually it means nothing. That's why young people in Europe hardly bother to get married anymore — it simply doesn't mean anything to them.

      One more note about discrimination. The State has other restrictions on marriage too, like you must not be blood relatives and you must be above a certain age. Are those restrictions discriminatory too?

    8. Jonathan, Richmond, says:

      How does gay "marriage" harm real marriage? As Randall pointed out it allows any and every "relationship" to be called "marriage" — polygamy, man/man, woman/woman, adult/child, bestiality. It all becomes valid and legal because we can't "discriminate" against any of those. Marriage loses all meaning thanks to a vocal radical minority who simply must force their lifestyles and beliefs on the rest of America.

    9. sukit NC. says:

      No right for DC. Court taking Thire “ Mothers “ on hostage too.

    10. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Marriage is a religious event and not a state-sponsored event. In the context of religion, marriage ceremony is performed to consummate the union with an eye towards procreation. Homosexual unions can not complete that requirement and it is not the same as some heterosexual couples that can not reprroduce because of either impotency or infertility. In the latter case, there is an underlying cause that is not the norm.

      What has happened to the separation of the state and church argument that is so effectively used to conver society into an atheistic one? How come the government gets to decide what marriage is? If the clegy and other religious leaders refuse to perform homosexual marriage, it is within their right to do so. The government must stay out of it as long as the government recognizes that that union is equal within the law for contacts, taxes etc.

      Is polygamy then OK? Why not?

    11. KLS says:

      Doesn't these moron politicians in Washington have more important, higher pressing, and higher priority things to be doing? Doesn't the DOJ have more important cases to hear? Why can't the ACLU and all these same-sex marriage crybabies just shut up for once?

    12. Ty, Mississippi says:

      Dave, it has been proven that incestuous relationships lead to mental retardation, and therefore aims to obliterate the possibility of having under privileged offspring. As far as age goes, we all reach a certain age, regardless of race, national origin, religion, orientation, etc. It's the same as having to be 18 to vote or 21 to consume alcohol. Would you consider that to be discriminatory? Hardly in the least, I hope. However, when two consenting, loving adults with no familiar ancestry want to completely fulfill their lives by becoming wed, they shouldn't be limited by what a majority says. This will not lead to polygamy, bestiality, or children getting married. Those all have obvious consequences and do not benefit anyone. Read into the logical fallacies of the argument, because I don't feel like I should have to explain the obvious. Good luck. :)

    13. Michael Ejercito says:


      your statement is completely and absolutely false.

      Courts did not give women the right to vote, in fact, the Supreme Court UPHELD a law that prohibited women, but not men, from voting (Minor v. Happersett). The women's right to vote became protected when the 19th Amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states, following a VOTE by two-thirds of the House and Senate.

      Furthermore, the Supreme Court upheld restrictions on marriage in the cases Reynolds v. United States, Murphy v. Ramsey, and Davis v. Beason. Murphy is very telling. As Supreme Court Justice Matthews wrote:

      "For certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate states of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guarantee of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement. And to this end, no means are more directly and immediately suitable than those provided by this act, which endeavors to withdraw all political influence from those who are practically hostile to its attainment."

    14. Billie says:

      Dave, when the definition of marriage is changed to suit peoples weakness of intolerance and fulfill the peoples special interests regarding their personal preferential, sexual conduct, solely for governmental recognition (preferential treatment) and benefits. Especially having a huge potential to effect traditional marriage. That's when.

      The only time there is NO discrimination, is when there are NO rules.

    15. Steve Skeete says:

      "When has a gay marriage ever harmed someone else’s marriage? Personally I have never heard a logical answer to this question".

      Sorry to join the debate so late Tim Pozner, but it seems that since asking, what in your opinion was an unanswerable question, that you did not pay any attention to some probably answers such as: changing marriage to mean a union of "any two persons" will eventually broaden the definition to the point where it means everything and nothing. That alone has the potrential to destroy traditional "one man one woman" marriage forever.

      Example, if it is "discrimination and animus" to deny same sex marriage, why would it not be discrimination and /or animus to deny "one man and two women" , "two women and one man", or (God forbid) "three men". It will also eventually mean accepting "child" brides and bridegrooms, one man or woman and an underage boy or girl. In fact, a few years from now some bright person will be asking "what in the world does underage mean?" And it will eventually lead to "bizarre" configurations such as one woman one pet?

      Of course, I can see you shaking your head Tim and dismissing this as patently absurd. But I say to you, not so fast! It certainly can't be anymore absurd than "one man one man" or "one woman one woman" "marriage" was just a short few decades ago? I mean, even today in some parts of the world people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the notion of "same-sex marriage", while in Europe it is already no big deal.

      The clear fact is you change marriage from what it has always meant to what homosexuals want it to mean today and you open Pandora's Box. Legend has it that once that box is opened it can never be closed again. Ever!

      I sure hope we have have helped you, Tim!

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    17. Pingback: Ruth Institute Blog » The other wedge issue

    18. CG, NJ says:

      –Marriage is a religious event and not a state-sponsored event.– Incorrect- marriage is civil, non-religious

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