Another vote for same-sex marriage
There may be another vote on the D.C. Council in support of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the District.
Nine council members are co-sponsoring council member David A. Catania's (I-At Large) same-sex marriage bill. Council members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) were the only members not supporting the legislation.
But at Monday night's committee hearing on the bill, Thomas indicated that he will probably vote for the bill if some tweaks are made to guarantee that religious organizations do not have to participate in same-sex marriages.
"I speak to the fact that while we may have very strong personal beliefs on an issue, as a legislator, we must look at how the law is enacted on civil and human rights issues," Thomas said. "I have held fast to my commitment that marriage equality is one that can be performed and we can move forward as a city."
Thomas, who is up for reelection next year, could face some political pressure in his district if he votes for Catania's bill. Some of the most fervent critics of same-sex marriage in the District reside in Ward 5, including several advisory neighborhood commissioners. But Northeast Washington also has a growing gay and lesbian population.
Thomas's support could be a huge boost to same-sex marriage proponents. With his support, every council member representing areas west of the Anacostia River will be behind the legislation.
But it appears doubtful that supporters will be able to achieve a unanimous vote. Alexander was spotted at a rally religious leaders held on Sunday to demand that a referendum be held on the issue. Several speakers singled out Alexander for praise for sticking with them.
Barry could be more of a wild card. He was the only council member to vote against the bill legalizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, and he has publicly stated since then that he does not plan to vote for Catania's bill.
But Barry can be unpredictable, and vote-counters often don't know what he'll do until the moment arrives.
Some same-sex marriage supporters speculate that Barry, a longtime supporter of gay rights, might flip to their side at the last minute if they frame the issue as a history-changing vote that could bolster his legacy.
-- Tim Craig
Washington Post Editors
October 27, 2009; 11:36 AM ET
Categories: Church and State , City Life , D.C. Council , Marion Barry , Tim Craig , same-sex marriage
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