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Countdown Date for Same-Sex Marriage in D.C.

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The Office of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced that she has begun a 30-Legislative Day Count Down to the day when same-sex couples in the District of Columbia will be permitted to marry. The countdown began last Tuesday, Jan. 5, when the Senate held a pro forma session, and continued today when the House held a pro forma session. The countdown is the lead-up to a Capitol Hill countdown event to be held close to the date the bill becomes final. The Congresswoman has already done the initial work to close the gates on overturning the Religious Freedom and Civil Rights Equality Amendment, "a home rule human rights issue for the District of Columbia alone to determine," she said.


Norton is a long-time advocate for human and civil rights of the LGBT community in general, and of same-sex marriage, in particular. However, the countdown also is part of her push this year to expand home rule as never before in the District, including securing legislative autonomy so that the District, like other states, may pass its own laws without Congressional interference. "This bill should not be on the Hill at all," Norton said. "Home rule is all or it is nothing. We can't pick and choose when Congress can intervene without signaling to Congress to intervene at will. No matter how controversial, matters decided in the District must remain in the District."


The Congresswoman last year succeeded in getting rid of the last of the riders on D.C. Appropriations that would have banned the District from using its own funds for needle exchange programs, abortions for poor women, and medical marijuana. Norton Announces Countdown Date for Same-Sex Marriage in D.C.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This not going to happen without a fight.


Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) introduced legislation today that would guarantee residents of Washington, D.C. the right to vote and decide whether same-sex marriage licenses should be issued in the nation's capital rather than allowing the decision to be made by the D.C. city council.


"The definition of marriage affects every person, and should be debated openly, lawfully, and democratically," said Bennett. "The board's decision to deny the people of Washington, D.C. a vote was incorrect and reminiscent of the judicial activism that has imposed gay marriage by fiat and stimulated such discord in other venues. Congress should act to ensure that the question is settled by a democratic ballot initiative process."


The District of Columbia Referendum on Marriage Act would ban Washington, D.C. from issuing same-sex marriage licenses until district residents are given the opportunity to vote on the matter in a ballot or referendum.


In December 2009, the Washington, D.C. city council passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in D.C. The mayor is expected to sign the bill. Unless Congress intervenes, the district will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.


The city council was able to take this action only because efforts to define marriage by ballot initiative had been thwarted by the unelected District of Columbia Board of Elections. The board adopted, and the D.C. Superior Court upheld, an activist interpretation of the D.C. Human Rights Law to declare that a ballot initiative defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unlawful discrimination.


Bennett's bill is cosponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

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