Gay marriage foes in the District of
Columbia want to undo a law approved this month by city council
leaders that recognizes legal gay marriages performed in other states
and countries, the Washington Times reported.
The Stand 4 Marriage D.C. Coalition, a
group of mostly black ministers led by Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope
Christian Church in Beltsville, announced they would seek a
referendum that repeals the measure.
“It's a declaration of war,” Bishop
Jackson said Wednesday. “We are sending a clear message this is
going to be fought every step of the way.”
Jackson said Tuesday's decision by the
California Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of a gay
marriage ban had encouraged the group to act.
Some council members have said the
legislation is the first step towards legalizing gay marriage in the
Before gay marriage opponents can begin
collecting the 21,000 signatures required, a three member board will
need to approve their application. Gay activists say that's unlikely
to happen because under D.C. election law bills cannot be placed on
the ballot that violate the Human Rights Act.
“The D.C. government cannot
discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and for them to
recognize marriages of straight couple and not to recognize marriage
of gay couples would be a clear violation of the Human Rights Act,”
Mark Levine, a lawyer and gay rights activist, told the paper.
If the board approves the application,
opponents face the daunting task of collecting valid signatures from
at least 5 percent of the registered voters in at least five of the
city's eight wards.
The group's actions follow on the heels
of another challenge to the law.
Last week, Ohio Representative Jim
Jordan introduced a bill that would define marriage as a union
between a man and a woman in the District of Columbia.
Under Home Rule any laws passed by the
District are subject to a 30-day review period by the U.S. Congress.
Jordan, a Republican, told The
Associated Press that more than 30 mostly Republican lawmakers
have signed on as co-sponsors, including Republican House members
Paul C. Broun of Georgia and Jason Chaffetz of Utah.