Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Pride Celebrates as D.C. Grants First Gay Marriage Licenses

Rain or shine, GU Pride members knew they had reason to celebrate early Wednesday morning.

As many same-sex couples prepared to line up at D.C. Superior Court, Georgetown students like J.C. Hodges (SFS ’11) were fresh off of a late-night baking spree to commemorate the first day of same-sex marriage licensing in the District.

Roughly 500 cupcakes later, GU Pride set up shop in the main lobby of the Leavey Center – a drizzling rain and low temperatures in Red Square forced a switch in location – to hand out free cupcakes and fliers to the university community.

“It’s the first day gay marriage is legal in the District, so we’re celebrating,” Hodges, one of about eight GU Pride members who stayed up until 4 a.m. to make the cupcakes, said to students as they stopped by for the baked goods.

The fliers Hodges and others handed out listed the 1,038 marriage benefits for which D.C. gay and lesbian couples were previously ineligible.

Passersby partaking in the celebration also demonstrated their support by writing their names on a strip of construction paper used to create a multicolored paper chain now hanging in the LGBTQ Resource Center, according to Mia Di Stefano (COL ’12), a member of GU Pride.

According to The Washington Post, 151 couples applied for marriage licenses on Wednesday.

“Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral and religious issue in this country and in many nations, and as I sign this act into law, the District from this day forward will set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city,” Mayor Adrian Fenty said in a press release on his Web site.

Councilmember David Catania (I-At-Large)(SFS ’90, LAW ’93) proposed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 on Oct. 6, 2009. Fenty signed the bill on Dec. 18, 2009, and a requisite 30-day period of congressional review ended Tuesday evening.

“[Wednesday] was the culmination of a year of attentive work on this issue,” Catania’s Chief of Staff Ben Young said. “It’s not over by any means – we have to be vigilant, and we have to make sure our law stays on the books, but there was a sense of `We did it, finally,'” Young said.

any same-sex couples waited in line for hours on Wednesday, with some arriving as early as 6 a.m. in anticipation of D.C. Superior Court’s 7 a.m. opening time.

Representatives of Catania’s office took a similar approach to GU Pride’s, handing out chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Dupont Circle’s Hello Cupcake to the first 200 newly licensed couples starting at 8:30 a.m. Catania appeared to distribute cupcakes from 10:30 am to 11:30 am, according to Catania’s Web site.

The bill’s passage also pleased other members of the Georgetown community.

“[Councilmember] David Catania, the chief architect of the bill, is our alum, and he was the keynote speaker last year on campus at Lavender Graduation [LGBTQ’s annual graduation ceremony],” Sivagami Subbaraman, director of the LGBTQ Center, said. “It is great that D.C. has taken this step forward, and that so many of the difficulties and divisions in that process have been resolved.”

The challenges Subbaraman referred to included months of opposition by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and other religious groups. During the review period, many opposition groups lobbied for a city-wide referendum on the bill, a measure that was rejected by the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics multiple times.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington decided to adjust its policies on employee health care benefits on Tuesday in protest of the new law. Under the new policy, health care benefits are not extended to spouses of both hetero- and homosexual employees.

“Catholic Charities changed its employee benefit plan to comply with the D.C. same-sex marriage law. We continue to honor health care coverage of all employees but as of today, new and current employees will not be able to add spouses to the health care plan,” Edward Orzechowski, president and chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said to the Washington Times.

Former Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities Tim Sawina protested the group’s decision in a letter sent Wednesday, saying spousal benefits would drive away current and future employees and would cause Catholic Charities to lose respect in the community, according to the Post. Under the new law, Catholic priests do not have to perform same-sex marriages if they do not wish.”

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