For Bishop Harry Jackson, the District of Columbia pastor leading the fight against gay marriage recognition in the city, next Tuesday's start of the law leaves him with few friends and fewer options to contemplate.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin upheld a ruling by the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics that stopped a referendum aimed at repealing a bill that recognizes gay marriages performed in other states and countries from going forward. The panel said the referendum would violate the District's Human Rights Act of 1977 that prohibits discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

Retchin's 15-page ruling was not only broad, it chided opponents as well: “At bottom, the harm about which petitioners complain is not based on a denial of the right to referendum. Rather, they simply disagree with legislation enacted by our duly-elected [city] council. A citizen's disagreement with constitutionally sound legislation, whether based on political, religious or moral views, does not rise to the level of an actionable harm.”

Jackson, backed by a team of Christian-based Alliance Defense Fund lawyers, also petitioned the court to stay the July 7 start of the law. On this issue, Retchin questioned her authority to rule, and therefore denied opponents.

To stay the effective date of the law might “encroach on the well-defined role of the Council and Congress,” she said.

City Council members agreed to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere in a 12 to 1 vote in May, with former Mayor Marion Barry the lone dissenter, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, signed the bill. All laws passed by the District are subject to a 30-day review period by the U.S. Congress. That review period ends Monday.

Jackson and his supporters found a sympathetic partner in Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, a Republican, who introduced a bill in May (HR 2608) that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the District. But the bill sunk in the Democratically-controlled Congress, where it managed to attract few co-sponsors. Only 54 lawmakers, or 12 percent of the House, supported the measure.

Jackson, who ministers at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville and whose radio commentary The Truth in Black and White can be heard nationally, also received an unfriendly welcome at the D.C. Board of Elections & Ethics, which voted unanimously against him.

With less than a week before the law goes into effect, Jackson and his supporters have run out of legal options … at least for now.

The pastor says he will continue to fight the law, and called Retchin's ruling “absurd.” “We will definitely fight it – if that's the case – yes,” Jackson told gay weekly the Washington Blade.

Alliance Defense Fund lawyer Brian Raum said his group would work to have the law overturned with a ballot initiative that would define marriage as a heterosexual union.

Council leaders openly acknowledge their next move is to legalize gay marriage in the District.