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Elections board holds a third hearing on same-sex marriage challenge

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is holding another hearing today to decide whether same-sex marriage opponents can hold an referendum to overturn the D.C. Council bill legalizing those marriages.

The hearing marks the third time this year that elections board has been called on to decide whether voters should have a chance to weigh in on the same-sex marriage. In the two previous rulings, the board determined that a referendum or initiative would violate the Human Rights Act, which is designed to protect gay men and lesbians and other minority groups from discrimination.

Each request has been somewhat different. In the spring, opponents filed a one to hold a referendum blocking a bill recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. During the fall, opponents filed for an initiative defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. The current proposal is designed to hold a referendum on a vote the bill pending before Congress allowing same-sex marriages to take place in the city.

A Superior Court judge declined to intervene in the first ruling, which allowed the city to start recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. Two weeks ago, a D.C. Superior Court judge also issued a broad ruling that upheld the board's recent decision blocking a vote on whether to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage opponents are appealing that decision.

With the elections board on clearly record now opposing a public vote on the issue, some same-sex marriage supporters have questioned the need for continued hearings.

But Kenneth J. McGhie, general counsel for the elections board, said in an interview Tuesday the board is required to hold hearing whenever an initiative or referendum request is filed.

"The statue requires us to do it, so even if it's virtually the same type of thing, by law we've got to hold a public hearing to make a decision," McGhie said.

Much of today's hearing will likely be dominated by similar testimony as the two previous hearings. McGhie, however, noted both sides could present some new arguments today. The D.C. Council, for example, is arguing that a public vote should not be allowed because the city code prohibits a referendum on a matter involving the allocation of money. Same sex marriage in the District, city attorneys argue, will impact revenues.

Should media outlets - many of which have increasingly limited resources - continue to cover these hearings absent a signal that a referendum could still be allowed to take place? Let us know what you think.

-Tim Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  January 27, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig , same-sex marriage  
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When will these religious zealot bigots get the hint: No means NO. Can we sue these bigots to recoup the money they are costing DC taxpayers. I mean, the self proclaimed maryland bishop has submitted another lame proposal, which will mean ANOTHER BOEE hearing ( the one today is from some other bigot)

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | January 27, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Tim: I say yes--- keep covering them, but set up something like Firedoglake did covering the prop 8 trial. Blog the hearing so people can see first hand what some of those opposed are saying, and why they are saying. We all know the whole 'procreation' argument is bogus, and as the Prop 8 trial has shown, opponents are trying to claim homosexuals are deviant predators and using the protection of children as their way to promote hate and discrimination. I wish the transcripts of these hearings could be posted so people can read for themselves-- unbiased and unedited what some of these people are saying.

Posted by: Aimhigh2000 | January 27, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

When will these bigots stop? Does everyone in this world have to be as miserable as them? Give me a break!

Posted by: kcflood87 | January 27, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Tell the Christians to sitdown and shut-up. Worry about your own life and marriage. Stay out of others lives.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 27, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Let's put bigots, and stupid on a referendum. Add simple-minded, and religion on it also.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 27, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It amazes me that so many church leaders have more of a problem with same sex marriages than they do with increased child and spousal abuse within homes, lack of positive parenting by so many who choose to reproduce, the apathy and contentment of so many citizens in terms of section eight subsistance, food stamps, free health care, and a general sense of laziness, and a willingness to have their children fail academically, and the number of young girls to deliberately see their life goal as baby making and living off the sweat of those of us to work for a living.

Posted by: vernonwilliams1 | January 27, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

My goodness, is this ever going to end? These initiatives and referendums are costing the city money. As Jackson has twice claimed to be a DC resident using the address of one of his buddies, is he indeed paying us taxes? Why don't we all file a petition and demand that the city investigate for possible cases of tax evasion and voter fraud.

Posted by: skndc | January 28, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Surprisingly, Bob McDonnell said it best in his response to the State of the Union address: "As our Founders clearly stated, and we Governors understand, government closest to the people governs best."

Of course as a Republican, he will refuse to concede that his statement supports DC's desire to get out from under the despotic constitutionalism of the District Clause.

Posted by: citizenw | January 28, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

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