The D.C. Court of Appeals says there
won't be a vote on gay marriage because that would violate the city's
The city's highest court ruled Thursday
against opponents of a gay marriage law that went into effect in
March. Opponents of gay marriage, led by Bishop Harry Jackson, a
minister at the Hope Christian Church in Belstville, had challenged a
D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruling that kept the question of
gay marriage off the ballot.
The board had consistently ruled that
such a measure would violate the city's Human Rights Act (HRA) that
prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. In rejecting
the referendum, the board said it would, if approved, authorize
“discrimination in contravention of the HRA.”
Opponents had argued that the board
overstepped its authority and that the citizens should have final say
on such matters.
But in their 81-page ruling handed down
Thursday, the court's majority disagreed, saying that the board was
within D.C. law in making such a decision.
The board “correctly determined that
the proposed initiative would have the effect of authorizing such
discrimination,” the court said.
While the court's ruling was split
along a 5 to 4 decision – with dissenting judges questioning
whether the board correctly interpreted the law – all nine judges
agreed that a gay marriage ban, as proposed by Jackson, would lead to
discrimination prohibited by the District's Human Rights Act.
Saying that “the people have a right
to vote on this issue,” Jackson told the Washington Post
that he's prepared to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, adding
that he was “encouraged” by the court's split vote.
appeal to the Supreme Court to stop the gay marriage law from taking
effect was rejected by the court.