A District of Columbia appeals court
rejected a last-minute effort to stop a gay marriage law from taking
effect as early as Wednesday.
In rejecting the plaintiffs' challenge,
the court's three judge panel unanimously agreed that the case would
likely not prevail in court.
Opponents of the law, led by Bishop
Harry Jackson, a minister at the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville,
appealed a February 22 Superior Court ruling.
“The people have a right to have the
final say on any law regarding marriage passed by the DC Council,”
Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Christian-based
Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing opponents in the
challenge, said in a statement announcing the appeal. “The DC
Charter makes that right clear, and officials should not be ignoring
the right of the people to vote for or against the new definition of
marriage fabricated by the council.”
“We are appealing because the
district's marriage definition law shouldn't go into effect until
voters have the opportunity to vote on a critical matter that affects
everyone in the district,” he added.
The defeat leaves opponents with few
legal options to head off the law from going into effect, possibly as
early as Wednesday.
A Republican effort – led by Utah
lawmakers both in the House and the Senate – to do away with the
law also appears to have failed. Senator Bob Bennett and
Representative Jason Chaffetz both introduced resolutions that sought
to 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.
Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts,
Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont. A gay marriage law
approved by Maine lawmakers last spring was repealed by voters in
BREAKING UPDATE: Opponents of DC's gay
marriage law have appealed
to the Supreme Court to halt its start.