Bil Browning

DC approves same-sex marriage

Filed By Bil Browning | December 15, 2009 2:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage equality, Michael Crawford, same-sex marriage, Washington D.C.

Congratulations to our nation's capital for approving same-sex marriage. While DC started recognizing marriages from outside of the district earlier this year, now they've gone one step further and have taken a firm stand for equality. The bill will now head to Capitol Hill for a 30 legislative day review period. If the bill passes review without congressional interference, the bill will become law and same-sex couples will be able to marry.

Congratulations also to contributor Michael Crawford for being one of the leading forces pushing the marriage equality bill through the city council and working with many different communities around the city to bring the goal to fruition.

If you live in DC, there's a victory party at the Long View Gallery (1302 9th Street, NW) from 7:30pm-10pm.

Org statements after the jump as they come in.

National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

The D.C. Council today overwhelmingly approved legislation extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Today's outcome follows a similarly decisive council vote earlier this month. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has pledged to sign the bill, has 10 days to act. Once signed, Congress will have 30 legislative days to review it and decide whether to intervene. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force urges Congress to respect home rule.

Earlier this year, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force supported the effort by bringing a team of local leaders to the Task Force's Maine LGBT Power Summit. The D.C. leaders received intensive training in the core skills critical for building robust grassroots lobbying campaigns.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"We are thrilled with the D.C. Council's passage today of this critical legislation, which places same-sex couples at the cusp of attaining a fundamental freedom in the nation's capital. We look forward to the District of Columbia soon joining the growing list of localities that have already enacted marriage equality. That day will be a great one for the District, and for the entire country. As a D.C. resident, I am personally proud of the council for standing so strongly for fairness and affirming the common humanity that bonds each of us.

"We thank each of the council members who voted for the bill, and the many groups and individuals who have called and worked for its passage. Federal lawmakers should respect home rule."

Freedom To Marry's Evan Wolfson

"Today Washington, DC's elected representatives voted to end the denial of the freedom to marry in our Nation's Capital, amid the cheers of a majority of DC residents and a surge of hope and happiness from the families who will be helped, even as no one is hurt. Five of seven African-American city council members on the majority African-American council supported the freedom to marry, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, also African-American, has promised to sign the bill. Washington's home-rule vote for the freedom to marry builds on the Golden Rule, treating committed gay couples and their families as each of us wants our loved ones to be treated in a country based on liberty and justice for all."

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today applauded the Washington, D.C. city council's vote to pass legislation that extends marriage equality to same-sex couples in the District. The bill will now be sent to District Mayor Adrian Fenty, followed by the U.S. Congress. By law, Congress has 30 days to review and overturn laws created by the District's city council.

"Gay and lesbian people in our nation's capitol are today one step closer to the important legal protections that marriage affords and that all loving and committed couples deserve," said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "Today's vote affirms the commitment of so many gay and lesbian couples in the District and reflects the growing support for protecting people equally under the law."

"GLAAD congratulates and expresses our deepest appreciation to DC For Marriage, Campaign for All DC Families, and the organizations and couples whose personal stories moved the council to today's historic vote," Barrios said. "We also encourage media reporting on this story to ground their coverage in the stories of our allies in the faith community and the couples whose love and commitment is at the heart of today's decision."

GLAAD has been working with local advocates and representatives from other national LGBT advocacy organizations to assist in raising the visibility of community allies and amplifying the stories of gay and lesbian couples.

Family Equality Council's Jennifer Chrisler

"It is past time that our nation's capital shows full support to the nearly 4,000 LGBT couples. Through its inclusive domestic partnership law, D.C. has been a longtime leader in recognizing that ALL families deserve the security and protection afforded by the benefits of marriage. Recently, the District began recognizing marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions. Today's action brings the District one critical step forward toward recognizing marriages of same-sex couples performed in D.C."

While this is a great victory for D.C. families, marriage equality in the District still has a few hurdles to overcome. Once Mayor Fenty signs the bill, the United States Congress will have thirty legislative days to intervene and prevent the District from recognizing these marriages performed in the District of Columbia.

While Congress is not expected to intervene and stop the legislation from becoming law, marriage equality advocates are currently working to fend off attempts to force a 2010 ballot initiative banning marriage equality in the District.

Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, applauded the Washington, D.C. Council's overwhelming vote today for final passage of legislation recognizing same-sex marriage.

"Today's vote is a victory for all D.C. residents, whose relationships will soon be treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "This legislation is an important and historic step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal rights for same-sex couples here in our nation's capital, which also preserves the right of clergy and congregations to adhere to their faiths. The legislation the Council passed today reinforces the legal equality and religious freedoms to which all D.C. residents are entitled."

"Congratulations to the D.C. Council - particularly Councilmember David Catania who spearheaded this bill - Mayor Fenty and the many advocates of equality in our community who have worked so hard for, and will vigorously fight to protect marriage equality in D.C. We look forward to the Mayor's signature and the day not too far off when same-sex couples in D.C. will be able to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage," added Solmonese.

The D.C. Council voted today 11 to 2 to give final approval to the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009. The vote recognizing same-sex marriage was the second in two weeks for the Council, which approved the bill in an initial vote on December 1, 2009 by the same margin. Since last July, D.C. law has recognized marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, including foreign countries. The new legislation would permit same-sex couples to marry in D.C. itself while ensuring that clergy and religious organizations would not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities or goods for the solemnization of a same-sex marriage.

The legislation now goes to the desk of Mayor Fenty, who has said he will sign it. The law would take effect at the conclusion of the Congressional review period, which lasts for 30 legislative days following the Mayor's signature.

Opponents of marriage equality have attempted to overturn the legislation by proposing a ballot initiative to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled last month that the proposed initiative would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act and therefore was not a proper subject matter for the referendum process under D.C. law. Opponents have sued in D.C. Superior Court despite the fact that last June, a Superior Court judge ruled that a similar proposed referendum prohibiting recognition of marriages by same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act and therefore was ineligible for the ballot.

At this time, five states recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire (effective January 1, 2010). New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction. Five states--California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada--plus D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin provide same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before a slim majority of voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships. The Prop. 8 vote has been challenged in federal court; a decision is not expected any time soon.

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Outstanding, Bill...I assume that the BilDC editor is celebrating?

Actually, I saw on Twitter that he had to miss the final vote because he had a dentist appointment! I think I'd have said "It can wait!"

Michael has worked so hard for this. I'm incredibly proud of him.

MIchael Crawford has been an extraodinary force and influence amongst a group of amazing people, he deserves out thanks. I was so sad he could not he there, but I cried a few tears in the back of the council chambers for him he is a friends and comrade!

As a Maryland neighbor my sentiment is, thanks Michael.


Maybe this is too optimistic... but I wonder if having officially married gay folks around the nation's lawmakers and high-level bureaucrats - in their lobbies and taking out their trash and on the subway and so on - will accelerate their realization that the sky doesn't fall.

I mean, I think most politicians who vote against marriage equality are following polls more than their own consciences, but still.