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Ministers Meet With Council Members, Urge Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

With Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) scheduled to introduce his same-sex marriage bill at Tuesday's council meeting, a group of ministers traveled to city hall today to step up their campaign to force a public vote on the legislation.

The ministers were spotted in the John A. Wilson Building meeting with Council members Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and Michael Brown (I-At Large), both of whom support Catania's bill.

"We just agreed we would work toward a civil discussion around these issues and we have asked that the voice of the people be heard on this issue," Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., said after his meeting with Mendelson. "If the voice of the people is not heard, I think a lot of people will be very, very angry."

Jackson has become a well-known public critic of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in the District. But several newcomers to the fight, including Dr. Hernando Caicedo of the Fraternity of Hispanic Pastors, accompanied Jackson at today's meetings.

"We are here to say 'allow us to vote on it,' " said Marshal Phillips, a community liaison for the Greater Calvary Holy Church in Northeast. "We will continue to fight because this fight has been going on since the beginning of mankind."

On Wednesday night Catania told about 150 gay rights activists he would introduce a bill Tuesday changing the city code to state "marriage is the legally recognized union of two people" and "any person ... may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender."

At the event, the Rev. Eric P. Lee, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, gave the activists tips on organizing.

Lee, who is heterosexual and a leading black advocate for same-sex marriage, told the activists they need to win over the religious community. But Lee urged them to focus on moderates -- not pastors like Jackson who are vocal critics of same-sex marriage.

"It's better if you just don't engage them," Lee said. "It's better to engage people who are reasonable about justice."

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will hold a hearing later this month on whether a proposal by same-sex marriage opponents limiting marriage to be between a man and a woman qualifies for the ballot.

In June, the board blocked an effort by Jackson to hold a referendum on whether the District should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

-- Tim Craig

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  October 1, 2009; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Tim Craig  
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You do not put civil rights up for a vote. Period.

Posted by: scinerd1 | October 1, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Sexual orientation is not a suspect class.

Therefore, rational restrictions can be placed around who may marry.

Same sex marriage is not an established civil right rooted in history or culture in the Western world.

This is about changing the social definition of marriage in D.C.

Posted by: captn_ahab | October 1, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree civil rights, strict scrutiny, reason,or rational --is not up for debate.

Additionally, why are these people from Maryland here in DC. Mind your business.

Posted by: 411Tibby | October 1, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Eleanor Holmes Norton backs the Same-Sex Marriage bill and sees that it should clear congress.

Go DC!

Posted by: bobbarnes | October 2, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

This is not about civil rights. This is about about a bunch of white boys trying to redefine civilizatiion in order to feel better about themselves. Who the hell cares what Eleanor Holmes Norton thinks? Let the people vote. Anal sex will always be disgusting and unhealthy, no matter how you try to dress it up.

Posted by: davis_renee | October 3, 2009 3:32 AM | Report abuse

The denial of marriage to homosexuals is not rationally related to a state's interest. There is no state interest in regulating a religious institution. If the state becomes involved in regulating civil marriage then they must allow it for homosexuals. Therefore, the rational basis test fails. Things such as inter-family marriage, etc., are rationally related.

Posted by: sweeper4444 | October 3, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I agree with davis_ renee, who cares what Ms. Norton thinks. Its geting to the point where these so called political leaders, will vote for anything that will get their names in print. And in this case, what somebody thoughts !!!!!!!!! are (PLEASE).

Posted by: chepasltr | October 4, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

No, Renee-davis - it's about civil rights. If you think anal sex is disgusting, just don't do it.

Some people think black people are disgusting too, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve civil rights.

Posted by: efavorite | October 6, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

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