A Washington D.C. panel has unanimously
ruled against allowing a referendum aimed at repealing a bill that
recognizes gay marriages performed in other states and countries to
go before voters, the Washington Post reported.
The Washington D.C. Board of Elections
and Ethics agreed with city lawyers and gay rights advocates Monday
that such a referendum would violate the District's Human Right Act
of 1977 that prohibits discrimination based on race, gender and
“Because the referendum would
authorize discrimination prohibited by the HRA, it is not a proper
subject for referendum, and may not be accepted by the Board,” the
City Council members approved the law
in a 12 to 1 vote last month, with former Mayor Marion Barry the lone
dissenter, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, signed the bill.
But because laws passed by the District are subject to a 30-day
review period by the U.S. Congress, the bill won't become law until
after the review period expires or Congress acts. Ohio
Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican, has introduced a bill that
would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the
District of Columbia. Democratic leaders in Congress, however, are
unlikely to act on the bill.
Bishop Harry Jackson of the Hope
Christian Church in Beltsville had organized the group of mostly
African-American ministers in favor of challenging the bill. The
ministers say recognition of out-of-state legal gay marriages is just
the first step towards legalizing gay marriage in the District, an
accusation council leaders do not deny.
Council member David A. Catania (I-At
large), the sponsor of the bill, has said he will introduce a gay