Lawmakers in the District of Columbia
have approved a gay marriage bill.
Passage of Council member David
Catania's gay marriage bill came as little surprise. Today's vote
mirrored a December 1 first reading of the bill where only two
members disagreed with its passage: Yvette Alexander and Marion
Barry, the District's former mayor. The remaining 11 members voted
in favor of the bill.
“Today's vote is an important victory
not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who
supports equal rights,” Catania, an Independent, told supporters.
Catania, one of two openly gay members
on the council, has taken a measured approached to the issue, first
introducing a gay marriage-recognition bill in the spring for the
council to approve. The city's law recognizes marriages performed in
the five states which have legalized the institution: Connecticut,
Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. New Hampshire's law
takes effect January 1.
Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, has
promise to sign the bill, though gay couples will have to wait 30
working days for Congress – which has final say on laws approved in
the District – to respond.
Whether Congress moves against the
legislation remains to be seen, but opponents of the measure have
already vowed they will urge lawmakers to act against the bill.
Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the
Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, has become the face of
the anti-gay marriage movement in the District, forming
Stand4MarriageDC.com in the spring after councilors approved the gay
Jackson is suing to get a question
prohibiting gay marriage on the ballot after the city's Ethics Board
ruled such a measure would violate the city's Human Rights Act that
prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. And his group
began lobbying members of Congress to oppose the measure last week.
Passage in the District might give
efforts to approve a gay marriage bill in New Jersey a much needed
boost. Enthusiasm for the bill appears to be on wane after senators
in nearby New York killed a similar bill last month and voters in
Maine “vetoed” a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the
If Congress fails to intervene, the
measure will likely take effect in mid-March.