D.C. won’t allow referendum “that authorizes discrimination.” So, no public vote on marriage equality

In the District of Columbia, the voters won’t decide the basic civil rights issue of who can get married. The city doesn’t allow elections on issues that are discriminatory. From the D.C. Board of Elections:

The District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics today released a memorandum opinion on the “Marriage Initiative of 2009”, which would establish that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.” A public hearing on the proposed initiative was held on October 26, 2009.

Under current law, the District recognizes as valid same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The Board concludes that that Marriage Initiative of 2009 would, if passed, strip same-sex couples who have entered into such marriages of rights afforded to them by that recognition. Accordingly, the Board orders in its memorandum that the Initiative be received but not accepted under D.C. Code section 1-1001.16(b)(2), which prohibits the Board from accepting an initiative that authorizes discrimination prohibited under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.

“We have considered all of the testimony presented to the Board and understand the desire to place this question on the ballot,” said Board Chairman Errol R. Arthur. “However, the laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from allowing this initiative to move forward.”

This is good news. And, it’s really too bad that other states let people vote on civil rights issues. As we saw in California and Maine, the majority is willing to take away rights from a minority group.

The full D.C. City Council will take its first vote on the marriage equality legislation on December 1st. Then, we expect final passage in mid-December.

While we won’t have a referendum on marriage, we’ll have to fend off a challenge in Congress. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders have already let the Catholic Bishops dictate social policy on abortion. You know the Bishops can’t wait to take on gay issues. They obsess over all things gay. Obsess. It’s so bad in D.C. that Catholic Church is using human shields, comprised of the poor and the homeless, in its anti-gay legislative battles. Their new motto is: “My way or I starve the poor and let the uninsured die.”

Can’t wait to see how the Obama administration deals with this one.


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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