Anti-gay activists gathered in DC's Freedom Plaza on Sunday afternoon to protest a bill that will legalize marriages between same-sex couples in the District. The rally, organized by a National Organization for Marriage affiliated group, was composed largely of religious conservatives many from outside of DC. Protesters were bussed in from from churches.
Speaker after speaker at the rally demanded a Prop 8 style ballot initiative to ban marriage between same-sex couples and argued that marriage equality would cause the extinction of the human race all while claiming they didn't hate "homosexuals."
The rally preceded today's hearing before the City Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary on the marriage bill introduced by Council Member David Catania. 269 people have signed to testify at the hearing making it the largest in DC Council history. The number of people seeking to testify is so large that the hearing will be split into two days. The first 100 people will testify today beginning at 3:30pm in the Council Chambers at the Wilson Building located at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The remaining 169 witnesses will testify on Monday, November 2.
The DC marriage bill has 10 confirmed votes meaning that it should pass the Council in December.
Maryland pastor Harry Jackson and his supporters know the bill will pass the Council and are mounting an intense effort to circumvent the legislative process by pushing a divisive ballot initiative and calling for congressional intervention.
Jackson's request to collect signatures for an anti-gay ballot initiative will likely be denied because it would violate the DC Human Rights Ordinance. He and his backers from the National Organization for Marriage have already threatened litigation.
They have also called on anti-gay activists across the country to urge members of Congress to force a ban on marriage equality in DC. Because DC is not a state, Congress has the final say over laws in the city. When the marriage bill passes the Council and is signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty, it will go to Congress for a 30 legislative day review period. Because its 30 legislative days, not 30 calender days, the review period should last roughly two months.
If members of Congress respect the will of the elected representatives of the District and do not intervene, the marriage bill will become law.
The hearing can be watched from the Council website and the Council cable channel 13.
You can also follow the proceedings on Twitter at #DC4M.