Tuesday, December 01, 2009

DC Set To Vote For Marriage Equality Bill

Despite the best efforts of Bigot Harry Jackson, Jr., the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington and the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the District of Columbia City Council is set to give the city's gay residents an early Christmas present and become the first jurisdiction south of the Mason-Dixon line to approve marriage equality.

The bill cleared its final hurdle on November 10 when it passed out of committee on a 4-1 vote. The committee also stripped language out of the bill that would have eliminated domestic partnerships and broadened the religious exemption.

While there are few roadblocks left for opponents to prevent its passage, it's not like they haven't been busy trying. The Washington DC Ethics Board quashed two attempts by Bigot Harry Jackson's Stand4MarrageDC group to stop it citing the city's 1977 Human Rights Act and its prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Ethics Board also cited the same sexual orientation discrimination prohibition when it denied a request by Jackson's group to place a referendum on gay marriage on the ballot.

Meanwhile, at the NOM ranch, they were trying to work the Capitol Hill angle in terms of suppressing the soon to be passed law. Congress has 60 days to review laws passed by the District Council, but even NOM Executive Director Brian Brown, commented in the Washington Post, "It's a difficult thing for Congress to actually overturn a law in the District."

And of course, in the public commentary on the bill, the haters were in full effect.

While Councilmember David Catania's bill would not require religious organizations to perform gay weddings, the Catholic Church has reacted in a thuggish manner.

The Catholic Church has threatened to shut off programs serving Washington's poor and homeless if the city does not include an exclusion that would allow individuals, including private business owners, to refuse to provide goods and services related to the nuptials of gay couples.

That threat was decried by the Democratic governors of Maryland and Virginia, who both happen to be Catholic. It also had the opposite effect of hardening the DC Council's resolve to pass the measure.

The bill is supported by ten of DC's thirteen council members, so its chances for passage look excellent barring some Twilight Zone level shenanigans. Mayor Fenty has already stated he would sign it, and the Democratically controlled Congress is not inclined to interfere with it either.

We'll see in a few hours if the District of Columbia City council says 'I do' to same gender marriage.

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