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Fenty signs gay marriage bill

In a raucous signing ceremony at a northwest Washington church, Mayor Fenty officially legalized same-sex marriage in the District, distributing ceremonial pens among the Council members standing behind him. The law now will go through a period of review consisting of 30 days in which Congress is in session. If the law passes that hurdle -- as is widely expected -- the first gay marriages in the District could take in late winter or early spring of 2010.

The ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church -- one of many in the city that supported the legislation -- opened with comments by Fenty, Council chairman Vincent Gray, and Council members Phil Mendelson, David Catania and Jim Graham.

In his opening remarks, Fenty recalled that when his own parents were married, many states would have refused to recognize their bonds. Fenty's father is black, while his mother is white.

"Today an era of struggle ends for thousands of D.C. residents," he said. "Our city is taking a leap forward."

Sponsoring Council member David Catania (I-At Large) opened his comments with a little family history recalling how his ancestors had moved from Massachusetts to Kansas to try and swing an election and prevent it from becoming a slave state.

"So there's a tradition of troublemaking in my family, and a deep and abiding understanding of civil rights," Catania said.

Council member Jim Graham, whose district is playing host to the bill signing, offered his praise for the mayor's staunch support of gay marriage.

"From the very beginning of this discussion, there was one certainty ... and that certainty was that once we passed the bill, this man would sign it." Graham said. "We're here today to do just that."

Read the full story here.

Text of Fenty's prepared comments after the jump.

Today, an era of struggle ends for thousands of District residents who have been denied the fundamental to right to marry the person of their choosing.

Today, the city is taking a leap forward in ensuring freedom and equality for all residents.

This is a historic and extraordinary moment in the nation's capital. And I am proud to be the Mayor of a city that stood up against an issue that tramples the basic rights and civil liberties of our neighbors, families and friends.

Last month when the DC Council introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, you came out in vast numbers in support of it. You gathered, testified and made it known to the world that we will no longer endure the weight of marriage inequality, not now, not ever.

Marriage inequality is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in this country and many nations. And as I sign this act into law, the District from this day forward will set the tone for other jurisdictions to follow in creating an open and inclusive city.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  December 18, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , same-sex marriage  
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Congratulations to the GLBT community for this victory. Seeing discrimination end is a blessing and a new beginning for all of us in the DC Metropolitan area. My prayers remain that the 30 day review brings the same victory we are seeing today. Rev. SJ Burns

Posted by: revsjb | December 18, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Another positive step towards equality!

Posted by: bobbarnes | December 18, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

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