Marriage hearings start today at DC City Council

Today, the D.C. City Council will hold its first hearing on legislation to enact marriage equality in the city. Opponents want a public vote, which won’t happen. And, with District legislation, there’s always the potential for Congress to interfere, which shouldn’t happen. The legislative process begins today:

After months of strategizing, the debate over whether the District should legalize same-sex marriage is entering its final stages as a council committee takes up the issue Monday. Hundreds have signed up to testify, setting the stage for one of the largest council hearings ever, officials said. Another hearing Monday is scheduled before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, which must decide whether to allow a ballot initiative on whether marriage in the District should be restricted to unions involving one man and one woman.

Sunday’s protesters chanted, “Let the people vote!” but many participants live in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. “What happens in D.C. will ultimately affect the states around it,” said Dana Sanders, a Columbia resident.

To get an initiative on the ballot, its supporters must convince the elections board that their proposal would not discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Most legal observers expect the board will deny the request. This summer, the board rejected a referendum proposal to block the city from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The D.C. Council is widely expected to approve a same-sex marriage bill before Christmas. On Monday evening, the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary will begin hearing testimony from 269 people who have signed up to speak.

We’ll have an update after the hearing.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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