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D.C.'s same-sex marriage bill now before Congress

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) announced Monday that the countdown to legalized same-sex marriage in the District has begun.

In a statement, Norton said a bill approved by the D.C. Council last month has arrived on Capitol Hill. Congress will have 30 legislative days to review it. The bill becomes law immediately after that review period has ended.

Depending on how many days Congress is in session next month, the bill could become law in late February or March.

For the bill to be rejected, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate, as well as President Obama, would all have to agree on a disapproval resolution. Same-sex marriage supporters, who noted that Congress has enacted only three disapproval resolutions in the past 30 years, do not believe the Democratic-majority will allow the bill to be blocked.

In her statement, Norton said she has already done the "initial work to close the gates on overturning" the bill.

"This bill should not be on the Hill at all," Norton said. "Home rule is all or it is nothing. We can't pick and choose when Congress can intervene."

Even if Congress stays out, there is a chance that opponents can succeed in convincing a court to require that the city put the issue before voters. There is also a chance that a future Congress could push to restrict same-sex marriage in the District, although supporters believe that would be a politically difficult move once those marriages have starting taking place.

-- Tim Craig

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 11, 2010; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , Obama , Tim Craig , same-sex marriage  
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The real significance of this for Republicans is that strong opposition, even if ultimately futile, can get individual Democrats on the record for supporting or not supporting gay marriage, something they could use during the upcoming election year.

Posted by: SUMB44 | January 11, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, SUMB44. The Republicans can go back to their nasty little habit of using socially divisive issues to try and win elections.

People who oppose same-sex marriage are on the wrong side of history every bit as much as people who opposed interracial marriage were when the Supreme Court overturned anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.

This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple, and the time will come when people who blatantly support oppression and discrimination against American citizens who work, pay taxes, contribute to their communities and form families will be shamed and shown the door.

So, go ahead, Republicans. Use marriage equality as a wedge issue. History will judge you like it is judging the KKK now.

Posted by: kpharmer | January 11, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Good points kpharmer. I find it hard to believe that in the year 2010, we still haven't gotten past this.

Posted by: johng1 | January 11, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Amen kpharmer!

Posted by: reiflame1 | January 11, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Again we have to wait for approval from the(Enforcer)Congress. Will we ever get Home Rule, not to be able to govern your own state (home). Say's to the world we are not able to control own lives, How many other place's does Congress govern, Like a king, taxing without a rep, We, the citizens of DC, WE Do NOT NEED an Enforcer?(Congress), Makes you wonder Is it Racial?

Posted by: onesugar1 | January 11, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that everyone wants home rule in the District of Columbia but no one wants the marriage issue on a public referendum, like the other thirty-two or three states. Interesting (if not hypocritical) illogic.

Posted by: meldupree | January 11, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Meldupree - there's nothing hypocritical about wanting home rule for the District on the one hand, and on the other hand recognizing that people's civil rights are not subject to a popularity contest.

I wouldn't cast a vote so that you couldn't marry someone you love - and I hope you'd extend the same courtesy to me.

Posted by: popkultur | January 11, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

No, this is not a popularity contest, but the redefinition of marriage tends to be a troubling trend, especially when imposed by a group who seems far less tolerant and inclusive of dissenting views. Hence, I can live with a referendum; I won't live with a gang of eleven making a sweeping decision for 600K in a city. That is not representative democracy, the very thing that DC pols whine about early and often.

Posted by: meldupree | January 11, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

meldupree said: "I won't live with a gang of eleven making a sweeping decision for 600K in a city. That is not representative democracy, the very thing that DC pols whine about early and often."

Actually that is the exact definition of a representative democracy (or a republic which is what we live in). We have elected the city council to legislate for the city on our behalf. If you don't like the decision that they have made, then you have the right to vote them out of office during the next election and elect a representative that will vote the way that you want. That is how our system works. There are some states (and the U.S. Congress) that don't even have a referrendum or initiative process. That is a state by state decision. In DC we do have this process, however the citizens of DC have decided that items that would go against the Human Rights Act are not proper for a referrendum and the courts have already agreed with this.

I believe what the pols complaining about is the Congress, where we have no voting representation, in providing oversight to the city. That is the true tragedy in all of this.

Posted by: jdindc | January 11, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Same-sex marriage is a right which must be availible in every state of the United States. Congress will approve the bill which Mayor Fenty signed so that in late spring, same-sex marriages performed in Washington, D.C. will be recognized. A referendum on the right of same-sex marriage would be a gamble on human rights.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | January 11, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

So, meldupree, when this country ended slavery did that redefine "freedom?"

Posted by: bobbarnes | January 12, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

@SUMB44 It occurs to me that all any Democrat has to do is invoke a federalist argument--Any state (or DC) should have the right to manage its own business. It's not the Federal government's role to intervene on local/state issues.

No matter how right or wrong the Democrat feels about the Marriage Equality Act, it's best for them to not intervene. If they get heat, then they just have to shoot back that their opponent is meddling in local/state affairs. Easy-peasy.

Posted by: redgrifn | January 12, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

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