Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by D.C. Marriage Equality Opponents
January 18, 2011 by Darrin Hurwitz, Deputy General Counsel
Today we applauded the Supreme Court’s rejection today of a last-ditch appeal by marriage equality opponents determined to put the rights of same-sex couples in D.C. up for a public vote. Last March, D.C. became the sixth jurisdiction in the nation to permit same-sex couples to marry.
“Today’s action by the Supreme Court makes abundantly clear that D.C.’s human rights protections are strong enough to withstand the hateful efforts of outside anti-LGBT groups to put people’s basic civil rights on the ballot,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “For almost two years, the National Organization for Marriage and the Alliance Defense Fund, along with Bishop Harry Jackson, have fought a losing battle to shamelessly harm gay and lesbian couples in D.C. who seek nothing more than to share in the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The D.C. Council and Mayor courageously made marriage equality a reality last year, and the courts have since upheld the rights of D.C. residents to govern ourselves and take the necessary steps to eliminate discrimination in our community.”
The Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari today leaves standing a D.C. Court of Appeals decision issued last July that determined the Council acted within its authority when more than thirty years ago it established a requirement that proposed ballot initiatives may not authorize, or have the effect of authorizing, discrimination prohibited by the D.C. Human Rights Act. The Court further held that an initiative on same-sex marriage would impermissibly permit discrimination against gays and lesbians in the District.
In December 2009, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009. The bill was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty, transmitted to Congress for review and became law on March 3, 2010. The first marriages between same-sex couples were performed less than a week later. Since then hundreds of same-sex couples have been married in D.C.
With today’s decision from the Supreme Court, marriage equality opponents have reached the end of their legal wrangling. The D.C. Board of Elections, Superior Court, Court of Appeals and now the U.S. Supreme Court have rejected their meritless and tired arguments that they should be permitted to impose a discriminatory ballot measure on D.C. voters.
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