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

Council Votes on Marriage Bill

[The D.C. Council voted Tuesday]( in favor of the [Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009](, which will effectively legalize same-sex marriage in the District.

With this first step complete, supporters hope that same-sex marriage will be legally allowed in the District by early spring 2010.

The bill passed by a vote of 11-2 on Tuesday, with the two opposing votes coming from Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7). The bill will undergo a second vote by the D.C. Council on Dec. 15, as all non-emergency legislation must pass two rounds of voting according to District law. After the second vote, if the bill is passed, it will be submitted to Mayor Adrian Fenty.

“The mayor has said he would sign the bill and then it will layover in Congress for 30 legislative days for the usual review period,” said Doxie McCoy, the spokesperson of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray. “If Congress does not overturn the bill, which it rarely does, same-sex marriages are expected to be legal in the District of Columbia early next year.”

In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s D.C. Council vote, [the bill faced vocal opposition in D.C., particularly from religious leaders, including the Archdiocese of Washington](

“Prior to the second vote, opponents may continue their opposition. We expect the Catholic Church to continue to seek greater religious exemptions,” McCoy said. “The sponsors of the bill have said they are willing to consider any compromise language that is presented to them.”

Before the vote, the archdiocese threatened to reject D.C. funding for its social service programs in the District if the council approved the bill.

“Councilmembers are remaining open to the possibility of some sort of compromise with the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, but the intransigence of Archbishop [Donald] Wuerl, who would continue to oppose the bill regardless of what concessions were made by the council, pretty much guarantees that it will go forward without significant further changes, if any,” said Rick Rosendall, vice president for political affairs of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in D.C.

According to Rosendall, the archdiocese’s protests have been ineffective.

“The Catholic Church has overplayed its hand, showing itself to be a bully, and has been rebuked by clergy from other denominations, including the Episcopal Bishop of Washington and Pastor Dennis Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church,” Rosendall said. “The efforts by Bishop Harry Jackson and the National Organization for Marriage to raise a groundswell of popular opposition to the bill have had little effect, and the push by Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Bob King for a ballot initiative have similarly gotten little support.”

Rev. Harry R. Jackson Jr., Melvin Dupree, Rev. Anthony Evans, Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Robert King, James Silver and Rev. Dale Wafer also advocated a city-wide referendum on same-sex marriage, which would allow residents to vote on the bill. According to McCoy, the D.C. Board of Ethics and Elections decided that such a referendum would violate D.C. human rights laws.

“The city may be divided on marriage equality, as they are on many issues. However, District residents elected the [members of the]Council to represent them and pass laws in the best interest of the city, and this is what the body believes it has done on this issue,” McCoy said.

The Archdiocese of Washington was unavailable for comment.”

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