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 the city.

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 vote.”

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.