HRC Blog

DC Marriage Initiative Hearing Happening Now

This morning the D.C. Court of Appeals is hearing a case brought by outside groups opposed to marriage equality in the District (LISTEN ONLINE HERE) and local organizations are speaking out against the effort to put the rights of one group up to a popular vote. The case concerns whether equality opponents can put an initiative on the ballot to invalidate same-sex marriages entered into in D.C. Aisha Mills, president of the Campaign for All DC Families said:

“Marriage equality has already brought critical rights and responsibilities to hundreds of same-sex couples, yet outside forces are determined to undo our progress,”  “As the courts have uniformly recognized in upholding D.C.’s comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, no one should have to have their marriages – or any of their civil rights – put to a public vote.”

A broad cross-section of clergy representing every ward in the city spoke out against the proposed marriage initiative. Rev. Darlene Garner, a member of DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality, said:

“Each and every one of the marriages performed since March 9th is equal under the law and sacred in the eyes of God.  As religious leaders it is our call to bring our communities together, not tear them apart by subjecting one group to the whims of the majority.”

Tom Williamson of Covington & Burling LLP, counsel for the Campaign for All D.C. Families, said:

“We are confident that after hearing from both sides, the Court of Appeals will uphold Judge Macaluso’s ruling recognizing the Council’s right to broadly protect human rights for all District residents by prohibiting ballot initiatives that cause discrimination.”

In January, D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso issued a ruling rejecting the arguments in a case brought by anti-marriage equality activists and backed by forty-nine Republican members of Congress that argued the D.C. Board of Elections was wrong to prevent a ballot initiative defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.  D.C. courts have also repeatedly rejected arguments attempting to put the marriage equality law itself on the ballot as a referendum.

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