Opponents of a District of Columbia gay
marriage law widely expected to take effect in February are pressing
for a voter referendum on the issue.
The Christian-based Alliance Defense
Fund (ADF) has joined Stand
for Marriage DC in challenging a District of Columbia Board of
Elections and Ethics ruling that blocked opponents from pursing a
ballot initiative. The board concluded that such a measure would
violate the city's Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination
based on sexual orientation.
Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the
Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, formed Stand for
Marriage DC in the spring after lawmakers approved a gay
marriage-recognition bill and promised to legalize gay marriage in
Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, signed
the gay marriage bill approved overwhelmingly by city leaders on
December 15. The law is expected to go into effect in February or
early March after Congress is allowed to weigh in on the matter.
While there is a possibility Congress could intervene on the matter –
having final say on all laws in the District – it is widely
believed that Democrats will not move against the law.
“The people of DC have a right to
vote on the definition of marriage,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel
Austin R. Nimocks said in a statement. “The DC Charter guarantees
the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the
charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to
Agreeing with the Ethics Board's
ruling, city lawyers filed a response Friday, asking a Superior Court
judge to dismiss the case.
Opponents have also taken their fight
to the courtroom of public opinion. District
transit buses carrying ads which state “Let the People Vote on
Marriage” and direct people to the Stand for Marriage DC website
began running last week.