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Catania: Gay Marriage Bill Will Debut Tuesday

The waiting game is over.

After months of buildup, D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At large) announced Wednesday evening he would introduce his proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in the District at Tuesday's council meeting.

Catania made his announcement before 150 gay rights activists gathered in Shaw for a rally featuring the Rev. Eric P. Lee, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

"We are going to do it now," Catania told the crowd. "We are going to do it now, not for ourselves, but for the young people who are 20 years-old, 16-years-old, 13-years-old."

According to a copy of the bill, the city code would be changed to state "marriage is the legally recognized union of two people" and "any person ... may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."

Catania's bill, which states religious organizations and officials have the right not to participate in same-sex marriages, is expected to pass the council easily when it comes up for a vote around Thanksgiving. Ten of 13 council members will co-introduce Catania's bill Tuesday, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has pledged to sign it.

But the measure still would have to get past Congress, which can overturn District legislation under Home Rule.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Catania said he's been in touch with Obama administration officials in recent days to solicit their help in reaching out to the Democratic-controlled House and Senate on the issue.

Although Obama has stated that he personally opposes same-sex marriage, Catania said the response from the White House "has been very good."

"We are not asking the White House to change its position on marriage equality -- the discussion with the White House is about supporting local home rule," Catania said. "Everyone knows where the president is on this issue, but we also know the president has high regard for home rule and local autonomy. And on those grounds we believe the White House should work with us in defending the actions of the local government."

Much of Wednesday's rally centered on what steps gay rights activists need to take to assure success, not only locally but on Capitol Hill.

"We are now about to embark on the sprint to the finish line," said Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who was joined by council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Michael Brown (I-At Large).

The SCLC's Lee, who is heterosexual and a leading black advocate for same-sex marriage, stressed during his sermon that gay-rights activists cannot allow the debate to be defined on religious terms. At one point, Lee equated the campaign for same-sex marriage to the city's drive for voting rights.

"It's taxation without representation," he said. "That's an issue here in D.C., isn't it?"

One couple at the rally, Kim Rohrs and Lisa Corey, hope to one day get married.

"We've been together five years," Rohrs said. "We are 30 and it would be nice to have a marriage option and start a family."

They weren't the only ones thinking ahead.

With Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D) expected to issue an opinion soon on whether that state legally can recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere, someone asked Catania what would happen if Maryland couples started flocking to the District to take their vows.

"I'm okay with thousands and thousands of Maryland residents who want to come here and get married," Catania replied. "The only thing I ask is that they hold their receptions here."

UPDATE: The group of ministers hoping to derail the same-sex marriage bill met with Council members today, urging them to allow a public vote on the matter. Read more here.

-- Tim Craig

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  October 1, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
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Go DC! Maryland next.

Posted by: bobbarnes | October 1, 2009 7:16 AM | Report abuse

When I moved to the city from Virginia, I knew I was going to be giving up congressional representation. However, I knew that the city's record on gay rights was lightyears ahead of my former home. It's good to know that my decision is paying off!

Posted by: DCCharles | October 1, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

This is a logical step for a city that has a very large gay population. We pay our taxes just like everyone else. We should be treated like everyone else.

It'll be interesting to see the Tea Party folks' reaction to this. They are supposedly all about 'states rights' and the stopping of big government intrusion.

What could be more intrusive than federal government intruding into the marriage vows of local residents?

Posted by: Hillman1 | October 1, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I encourage everyone to get involved and help make this happen in DC! The meeting last night was inspiring but it takes a lot of work to make something like this happen. Let's support our council members and the community leaders who have made this a possibility by showing up, writing letters, and calling in support.

Posted by: IslandLC | October 1, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

It's amazing how the opposition to this bill are the marion Barry disciples. The same constituency that is O.K. with wanton violent crime, loveless animalistic sex, corruption and drug abuse.

If you Ward 8 leaches on society did care you would be less preoccupied with stopping guys butt f u c k i n g and more concerned with the self loathing nature of your culture.

Posted by: eddiemacs | October 1, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

its immoral!

Posted by: FloridaCitizen | October 1, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@ FloridaCitizen
What do you care if two men or two women marry, Immoral or not! Furthermore, Who are you to Judge Immorality??? Unless you're the Almighty Man upstairs himself then you have no right to utter those words, because truthfully, YOU REALLY DONT KNOW! Trust Me, we will find out whats true in the Morallity Arena and get some actual ANSWERS once we pass on from this earth. But until then, NO ONE ON THIS EARTH CAN JUDGE!


Cheers to the My Gay Friends and Family Being Treated Like human Beings For a Change!!

Posted by: drobe9_19991 | October 1, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I think the TEA Party folks are not nearly as interested in this issue as many would believe. As one poster mentioned, the Barry disciples are the ones we will likely have to contend with on this issue. It's incredibly disheartening though. If the tax base that is provided by the gay men left this city, who then would pay for the social welfare services provided to the very residents who loathe us, bash us, and steal from us?

Posted by: cdg0606 | October 1, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Although we live in Maryland, Kathy and I will be married in DC once this is all set.

Within our lifetime, our marriages will be as commonplace as straight marriages, transferrable rights state to state, and fully federally recognized.

Posted by: Aunt-Lefty-the-Nimble | October 1, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Catania don't end run this around the entire District population. I want the right to vote on this myself. I already know my City Councilwoman doesn't represent me.

Posted by: ahs78graduate | October 1, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

If marriage is legally defined in Maryland as the union of one woman and one man, then is it logical to accept a different definition of marriage from another state as satisfying what the state of Maryland recognizes as a marriage?

I would think not.

There is either one definition of marriage in Maryland or there is no definition.

I wonder how Attorney General Gansler views this, or what logic he would apply.

Posted by: captn_ahab | October 1, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse


you got your vote when you voted for (or against) your City Councilwoman, if you don't like her vote too bad. Run against her next time. I didn't get a vote on whether or not you can get married...or divorced.

Posted by: sb433 | October 1, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

How appropriate that DC should propose a bill advancing gay civil rights on the anniversary of night Matthew Shepard was taken out to a fence in a lonely field, beaten unconscious, and left to die strung up on a fence. We have come so far in the past 11 years!

Posted by: sasnoo1 | October 1, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Heterosupremacist in Chief Obama has to keep his promise to the tyrannical theocRATS who voted for him and against marriage equality in California, Florida and Arizona last year.

Don't worry all you sun revolves around the flat earth bronze age bible, your ability to deny equal rights to anyone you don't approve of, agree with, accept or believe need your tolerance is safe in the hands of this president, who agrees with the bible used to rationalize slavery and segregation.

Posted by: planetspinz | October 1, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure the District of Columbia will have to deal with an influetial conservative element in Congress in order to have Catalina's same sex marriage law take effect in our nation's capitol. However, it will be another story in Maryland. Sometimes WAPO readers forget that, while the suburbs surrounding D.C., and Baltimore City are relatively liberal, the State Maryland as a whole can be very, very conservative. So, in spite of what Atty. Gen. Gansler's opinion may be, I believe there will be considerable resistance to the legalizing same sex marrriage in Maryland.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | October 1, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how that bigot from Maryland will contend with this....seems pretty in-your-face--- if you don't want to marry two people, you don't have to, so there. I'm glad this is going through. It's about time that the city council finally does something and doesn't listen to the homophobe churches in town (most of which the congregations live in MD no less, and illegally park several nights a week singing to Jesus). Equal rights for everyone.

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | October 1, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Congress will not allow this to happen, believe me. They will tack on an amendment to the appropriations bill that will have two sides at odds with each other hence it will continue to divide the city. DC needs to focus on becoming a state. As a DC resident I want to have the opportunity to vote on this measuree because it has far reaching implications. If the vote is not allowed to the citzenry, are we any better than congress infringing on home rule?

Posted by: blkwrestl | October 1, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Not so fast blkwrestl - DC becoming a state impacts all the other states, so I think we, the U.S. citizens, should be able to vote on whether DC deserves to be to a state - and it doesn't. You have no rights under the Constitution to become a state, and we the citizens of the U.S. won't allow it.

How does it feel to have your "rights" infringed upon? Now you know what it's like to hear bozos like you say you want to vote on whether gays deserve the same rights as you.

Posted by: B-rod | October 1, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's do it. Equal rights for all. And if Congress wants to go on record opposing it, let them. History will judge.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | October 1, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults. Washington, D.C. City Council David Catania is going to do the correct thing by introducing a bill that would recognize same-sex marriage in Washington, D.C. Same-sex marriage is a right representing necessary equality for the LGBT community. It's good that the Obama administration doesn't oppose the bill, however President Obama must imrpove his view of same-sex marriage.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | October 1, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse


What far reaching implications are you referring to? I realize that you may not be able to articulate any, but indulge me, I'd love to know.

The name of the act is the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act and for good reason. From what I've read of the preliminary text - everyone comes out a winner. Gays get to marry and churches or religous groups won't be legally compelled to marry them.

I say to HELL with marriage as a sacarament... Civil Marriage and Equality for all!! After all, no one is legally married until the municipality in which they reside issues a license affirming the marriage.

Good deal DC. Now if you could only work as hard at getting rid of Barry, Fenty, their cronies, etc. I MIGHT be inclined to maintain residence here, but home is still looking pretty good right now.

Posted by: BLKManCommonSense | October 1, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Interracial marriage back during Jim Crowism was between a man and woman, not Steve and John. Why do people always compare interracial marriage to a black human being and a white human being? Isn't interracial marriage an Asian and white, Asian and black, Mexican and white, Mexican and black, Cuban and white, Cuban and black, Puerto Rican and white, Puerto Rican and black?

The white male is not one person; it is an organized syndicate of North American media outlets such as white gay owned newspapers, magazines, celebrities, and white gay political organizations. It is a chilling reminder and warning to black gays and straights about the “influence”, “racism”, and “hypocrisy” of the white gay male. Is there homophobia in the black community? Yes it does exist. Is there racism in the white gay community the answer is a resounding yes and it is very real and ugly.

The white gay male doesn’t understand that some black people do not view them as a “minority”. Some blacks just see the “white gays” as an alternative version of the mainstream white society. Some white gays have claimed they have “similarities” to blacks because they also encounter discrimination. It is true some white gays encounter discrimination due to their sexual orientation. However, in society you simply cannot compare the struggles of the white gay community to that of the black race. Blacks and other people of color encounter more discrimination given the fact, white gays still have their “whiteness”. White gays are still a part of the white majority they have white skin privilege. White homosexuals also have the support of the liberal white media that can also be anti black.

I support "civil unions" between same sex partners, not gay marriage. If D.C. voters have a say on this issue in the future, I will be voting against the gay marriage legislation being pushed by openly gay D.C. At-Large Councilmember David Catania. In the next election, I will not vote for D.C. At Large Councilmembers Vincent Gray, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, David Catania, Phil Mendelson, and Ward 4 D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser. I am a Blue Dog Democrat and I am concerned, the ultra liberal left wing Council of the District of Columbia is taking this city on the wrong path too far to the left. We need more people on the D.C. Council that's moderate Democrats and not all left wing liberals.

Blue Dog Democrat
Ward 4 Registered D.C. Voter
Native Washingtonian

Posted by: Ward4DC | October 1, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Blue Dog Democrat
Ward 4 Registered D.C. Voter
Native Washingtonian

You talk about white gay males as racist. Your attitude is no better, but I'll bet you can't see your own bigotry.

The comparison between civil rights struggles is valid simply because there are two groups of people whose rights are infringed due to a trait that is met with disapproval by a powerful majority. It doesn't matter if that trait is innate or chosen, and it doesn't matter how large or small the affected group might be.

So, you don't recognize people who are homosexual as a minority? Really? Are you saying that people who are homosexual are the majority of Americans?

It bothers me greatly that people who have themselves been the subjects of oppression and discrimination willingly subject another group of people to the same mistreatment. It doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Racism is not limited to white people. I see plenty of people of color who comment on these blogs who are racists. It goes both ways, and it's equally odious no matter what the skin color of the racist.

Posted by: kpharmer | October 2, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Blacks and other people of color encounter more discrimination given the fact, white gays still have their “whiteness”."

Yes, and you, Ward4DC still have your heterosexual privilege. And I'm sure if you've male, you've received pirvilege there, as well. What of it?

Posted by: DCCharles | October 2, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

People against Marriage Equality do not base their public statements on facts either from science or the bible. It is a repeat of the time the Vatican was condemning Galileo, because they insisted that Galileo was going against the bible that it is the sun that revolves around the earth. Therefore, the only position left for being against gay rights or gay marriage is for personal reasons. Because researchers have clearly shown us that components of human sexuality are on continuums. This means that nearly everyone is a mixture of LGBT components to some degree, the variation on this are likely as complex as DNA.

With more and more people having “come out” in many professions, from various backgrounds, prime ministers to major football sport figures, plus the overwhelming abundance of allies coming out in support of LGBT people, there are fewer people in the closet, now days. This means it resonates more quickly when someone is closeted about his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. However, instead of resisting publicly by regressing to irrational fears, name-calling and making ignorant statements, it is best to come to terms with one’s own individual sexual orientation and gender identity before facing the public.

Marriage Equality - it must be remember that the importance and meaning of marriage is more than procreation. Two people pledging their love to each other is not just for themselves, because that is not marriage. By being in love, two become one and they are better equip to be the best for everyone in world their families, friends, co-workers and beyond. In this way all marriages are contributing to the procreation of children by their enriching the social environment that children will be born into. I think that love; true love like energy is never lost, a bit like Einstein, maybe.

The truth will set us free - not ignorance and fear.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz

Posted by: FrMKurylowicz | October 4, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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