Michael Crawford

DC marriage hearings end with a proposal

Filed By Michael Crawford | November 03, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Brian Brown, David Catania, DC city council, DC gay marriage, DC marriage equality, gay marriage in DC, Harry Jackson, NOM

Monday was the second day of the marathon hearings on the DC marriage bill. Over 250 people signed up to testify for or against legalizing marriages between same-sex couples over the two days with roughly 80% of the witnesses supporting marriage.

Yesterday's hearing was capped by Andy Hertzberg's proposal to his partner Andy Rollman.

The marriage bill was introduced by openly gay Council Member David Catania on October 6 with nine other members of the Council signed on as co-introducers including Council Chair Vince Gray. Another member of the Council has said he will vote for the bill meaning eleven of the thirteen council members are on record as supporting marriage equality.

The hearing before the Committee on Public Safety began on October 26 and continued on November. With over 250 people signed up to testify, it was the largest hearing in Council history. The Committee will vote on the bill on November 10.

Pro-equality witnesses dominated the first hearing day with ten of the first fifteen witnesses supporting marriage including Rev. Rob Hardies, Co-Chair of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality.

With broad support on the Council for the bill, marriage equality will pass in DC. We do, however, have two remaining challenges: anti-gay activists have pledged to use race and class to try to divide the city and are encouraging Congress to intervene to overturn marriage once it has passed the Council.

Because DC is not a state and does not have legislative autonomy, laws passed by the City Council are subject to a thirty day congressional review period. The review period is thirty legislative days rather than calender days meaning the review period will likely last about two months depending on when the bill is sent to Congress. During the review period, Congress does not have to approve the bill. They don't even have to discuss it. If they take no action, the bill will become law.

Bishop Harry Jackson and National Organization for Marriage have teamed up with Jackson moving from Maryland to DC specifically to oppose marriage equality and NOM moved its headquarters to DC to use its $6 million budget oppose marriage in the District and to fight attempts to repeal DOMA.

Harry Jackson testified on the first day of the marriage hearing calling for a Prop 8 style vote on marriage and got more than he bargained for in Council Member David Catania. After Jackson's patronizing and selective history of DC's quest for voting rights, Catania asked

Bishop, are you aware of the last time an 'advisory referendum' was placed on the ballot in the District that attempted to diminish the rights of a minority?

To say Jackson was left dazed and speechless, would be an understatement.

Also testifying on the first hearing date was YouTube sensation Ms Ernestine Copeland:

Ernestine Copeland

The second hearing featured the marriage proposal and a David Catania smack down of NOM's Executive Director Brian Brown.

We have a strong shot at winning and keeping marriage equality in DC, but we still have a lot of work to do. We must continue outreach to communities of color and communities of faith to educate other District residents about why marriage is so important to gay and lesbian families.

In the next few days we expect a decision from the DC Board of Elections and Ethics on whether or not there will be an initiative to ban marriage equality. We expect the decision to go in our favor, but Jackson and his backers at NOM have already said they will file a lawsuit to further their anti-gay efforts.

Marriage equality isn't a done deal in DC by any measure. To find out more about how you can get involved, join the DC for Marriage Facebook page.


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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 3, 2009 9:42 AM

I introduced myself to Brian and think I freaked him out a bit. He was talking to an aide and I just barged up, introduced myself, and proclaimed that we were on opposite sides of the issue. I support equality and he doesn't.

The proposal was sweet! (But the smackdown of "Bishop" Jackson was the highlight for me.)

Regan DuCasse | November 3, 2009 1:53 PM

I'm so sick of people like Brian Brown lecturing on this as if men and women won't be able to go on with their lives and whatever children they do or don't plan.
Marriage is open to all manner of people that the likes of BB couldn't know at face value what their qualities are or will be for successful marriage and parenting.

It IS marriage itself that has no requirements except that those adults who engage in it, do what they can.
The states interests are essentially simplicity, no redundancy as far as kinship and marriage status is concerned, consent and primacy.
The basics of this are as required for gay people as het people.

The loaded words like 'best', 'special' and 'children' gives assumption that ONLY hets are parents or will be, that hets are the only people capable of success at commitment and parenting and ONLY het's children matter.

BB's own words give weight to the values of supremacists, segregationists and other people who fostered and demanded to maintain a SYSTEM of bigotry and discrimination.
It's the bigoted policies that disenfranchise otherwise productive and contributing members of society that claim such a system as the invention of God (or God's more special people), so therefore no challenges should be to it by those they consider can take no credit for it's creation or sustainability.

One can easily see the simplistic patterns of language, but no context or references to the different historical abuses of 'their' God driven system on other vulnerable people, ESPECIALLY in our own nation.

We have recent history to inform us as recently as 30 years ago.
People like BB keep referring to marriage as if it's never changed, only recently been a matter of romantic choice or has become more egalitarian along gender lines in the last 20 years.

There are even older women opposed to marriage equality who forgot when 'obey' was part of their vows to their husbands AND when obtaining independent means of income and credit was impossible.

BB and his ilk speak as if to children, to simple minds and people who lack a serious conscious about recent history.

They want to keep referring to Biblical history as if it hasn't been tampered with, reinterpreted and most of all, created and enforced by MEN throughout the centuries.
Women and homosexuals in particular are repressed, endangered and devalued globally, and blamed for all manner of mankind's problems.


But recent history, the kind most of us have lived through, were eyewitnesses to and were affected directly, well...somehow what WE have to say in that context is meaningless to the likes of Maggie G and BB.
Meaningless in ways they are not willing to understand especially that they and others coexist with what their religious belief abhors, everyday.
Someone does, all day, any day of life in secular and poly religious America.

Without the important historical context of institutionalized bigotry, calling them bigots is far more accurate than calling gay men and women in this country incapable of making supportive and desirable contributions to this society.

BB insults those adults who have no children or can't as worthless to the health and welfare of society, and does so also to the gay men and women who have adopted, fostered and given birth to children and support them ably and with considerable commitment without legal obligation to do so.

Maggie G and BB haven't themselves adopted children out of the foster system, nor are they all that concerned about how gay parents are to maintain legal authority and security with their children WITHOUT marriage or dependence on the hostile whims of strangers.
Hostility and fear that BB himself fosters.

Of course HE wouldn't think he was a bigot.
But then, HE hasn't had nearly the experience WITH bigotry that most of us have known all our lives.
And by that same reasoning, HE won't recognize the horrible damage that bigotry does to real lives and most of all...doesn't have to care as much as we do.
And knows he doesn't. Otherwise, he wouldn't appeal to the basest of prejudice to achieve his ends.
And in that end, even marriage won't win.