The twists and turns in our efforts to win marriage equality in Washington, D.C. have been worthy of any soap opera. John Shields, the new managing editor of Bilerico-DC, has asked me to write a recap of recent events. So, let's start with a bit of good news, work our way to how we got here and look at where things may go.
Yesterday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) issued a ruling denying a request by a group of anti-gay clergy members to collect signatures to place on the ballot whether or not the District should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The BOEE cited a provision in D.C, election law that prohibits a popular vote on a matter covered by the D.C. Human Rights Act - which includes sexual orientation.
"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said while speaking to reporters. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."
Shortly after Marion Barry made his comments members of the Ward 8 Democrats, an influential group of local Democrats on the ward represented by Barry voted by a 2 - 1 margin to pass a resolution supporting marriage equality. Democratic clubs in Wards 1, 2, 4, and 6 have also passed resolutions supporting marriage equality. Ward 5 voted against a resolution supporting marriage and votes are expected soon on marriage resolutions in Wards 3 and 7.
The marriage recognition bill is now in the Congressional review period during which Congress has 30 legislative days to take action or not on the bill. Because D.C. is not a state, Congress has the final say over the District's laws and budget. The Congressional review period is expected to end on July 7. After that date the bill will become law.
At the BOEE hearing Bishop Jackson and his supporters used the most vile language imaginable in arguing against marriage recognition. One of Jackson's colleagues claimed that gay and lesbian families are "Anti-Christ" and said that LGBT people don't deserve human rights because we are not human.
With their request for a referendum denied, Bishop Jackson, National Organization for Marriage and others are expected to immediately appeal the BOEE decision.