HRC Blog

Opponents of DC Marriage Equality Continue Bizarre Legal Straw Grasping

This update on the status of legal marriages between same-sex couples in DC comes from HRC Assistant General Counsel Darrin Hurwitz: DC FlagVirtually no part of the judicial branch has been left unscathed in the past 24 hours as opponents of marriage equality have launched a desperate eleventh hour attempt to find a sympathetic court to halt D.C.’s same-sex marriage law scheduled to take effect tomorrow. Yesterday, opponents – led by the national anti-LGBT legal group Alliance Defense Fund – filed for an emergency stay of the marriage law in the U.S. Supreme Court, reciting arguments that have been uniformly rejected by the lower courts and identifying no cognizable reason why the high court should intervene on an issue of D.C. law.  The Supreme Court this afternoon denied opponents’ application for a stay of the D.C. marriage law. In a three page opinion [pdf], Chief Justice Roberts concluded that a stay was not warranted, noting in part that the Supreme Court defers to D.C. courts on matters of local concern and that opponents still have their petition for a ballot initiative awaiting consideration by the Court of Appeals. Today, opponents filed an unusual “motion for clarification” in the D.C. Court of Appeals to request that it revisit last week’s decision denying them a preliminary injunction. Then late this afternoon, opponents also filed a frivolous complaint in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order, naming as defendants D.C., the Mayor and the Chief Judge of the D.C. Superior Court.  Opponents claim their Fifth Amendment due process rights have been denied because they “have not yet had a meaningful opportunity to brief the merits of their claim... or an opportunity to be heard.”  For months marriage equality opponents have argued their case – before D.C.’s Board of Elections and Ethics, three D.C. Superior Court judges, the Court of Appeals and now to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Opponents may not like the result rendered by the people’s elected council members and mayor, or the decisions of the courts, but there can be no doubt that the process throughout has been fair, deliberative and respectful of the entire D.C. community. In contrast to marriage equality opponents’ legal histrionics, D.C. government has moved ahead in a measured manner to ensure that it is prepared for tomorrow’s historic first day of same-sex marriages.  The same Superior Court judge sued this afternoon by ADF noted in this morning’s Washington Post that "we're anticipating a lot of excited residents from the District and suburbs coming down to the court to apply, and we want to make this as smooth an experience as possible."

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