Third time was not the charm for
opponents of gay marriage in the District of Columbia. On Thursday,
their latest effort to delay the expected March 3 start of a gay marriage law
also ran aground.
In its third ruling on the issue, the
Board of Elections and Ethics rejected opponents' latest attempt to
place on the ballot an initiative that would ban gay marriage in the
District. The board has consistently ruled that such a measure would
violate the city's Human Rights Act (HRA) that prohibits
discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“The Referendum seeks to frustrate
this effort, and would, if successful, have the effect of authorizing
discrimination in contravention of the HRA,” the board said in its
18-page ruling. “Accordingly, it does not present a proper subject
for referendum, and may not be accepted by the Board.”
Opponents have appealed the board's
previous rulings to the D.C. Superior Court, and are likely to appeal
its latest decision. In both cases, however, the court agreed with
Previous decisions concerned an earlier
law enacted by city leaders that recognizes gay marriages performed
outside the District. Today's ruling sought to delay the start of a
gay marriage law approved in December from taking effect until voters
decide on the issue.
Republicans in Congress have also
attempted to do away with the law. Utah lawmakers have led the
charge both in the House and the Senate. Senator Bob Bennett and
Representative Jason Chaffetz have both introduced legislation that
would overturn the measure.
“The determination of marriage
affects every person and should be debated openly, lawfully and
democratically,” Bennett said.
Under Home Rule, Congress has final say
on the laws approved in the District. But Congress failed to act
last year when the District began recognizing gay marriages performed
elsewhere. And both Republican lawmakers agree their resolutions are
more symbolic than anything else.
“They're [Democratic leaders] not
going to call up anything that's going to allow this to be heard,”
Chaffetz told the Utah-based Deseret News. “I think they're
very clear about that, because they're afraid of a vote. They're
afraid of the public.”
Opposition to gay marriage in the
District has turned Bishop Harry Jackson, a minister at the Hope
Christian Church in Beltsvile, Maryland, into an anti-gay marriage
celebrity. Jackson formed Stand for Marriage DC in the spring of
2009 and remains a leading voice against gay marriage in the