Opponents of gay marriage in the
District of Columbia have suffered another setback in their ongoing
effort to prevent a gay marriage law from being approved.
In a unanimous
opinion released Tuesday, the city's Board of Elections and
Ethics denied the group Stand4MarriageDC.com from putting a gay
marriage question on the ballot. The proposed one-sentence
initiative says, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid
and recognized in the District of Columbia.”
“We have considered all of the
testimony presented to the Board and understand the desire to place
this question on the ballot,” Board Chairman Errol R. Arthur said
in a statement.
“However, the laws of the District of
Columbia preclude us from this initiative to move forward,” he
The board's ruling said the initiative
“would authorize discrimination prohibited under the [District's]
Human Rights Act (HRA).”
The group Stand4MarriageDC.com is
helmed by Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the Hope Christian
Church in Beltsville, Maryland who formed the group after lawmakers
approved a gay marriage-recognition law in the spring. The law,
which went into effect on July 7 after a mandatory federal 30-day
review period, recognizes legal gay marriages performed in other
states and countries, effectively allowing District residents to port
a marriage from a nearby state that grants gay and lesbian couples
the right to marry.
Council member David Catania's gay
marriage bill enjoys overwhelming support in the council and is
expected to easily win approval on December 1.
Jackson and his followers initially
attempted to keep the gay marriage-recognition law from taking
effect. Citing the same Human Rights Act, however, the ethics board
also rejected that effort.
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney for the
group, told the AP that the group would appeal the ruling and called
the board's decision a “mistake.”
“The people have the same rights [as
the D.C. council] to make law on the same subject,” she said.