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Utah senator tries to block D.C. same-sex marriage

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) has introduced legislation that would require the District to put same-sex marriage on the ballot before issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as planned next month.

The proposed District of Columbia Referendum on Marriage Act, similar to legislation already introduced in the House by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would halt the implementation of the new city law.

The D.C. Council approved the legalization of same-sex unions in December, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) signed the bill into law. Under Home Rule, there is a 30-day congressional review period. Without congressional intervention, the law will go into effect next month.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have tried several legal avenues to block the law. But the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has rejected the putting the issue on the ballot because it would violate District human rights law, and a judge has upheld the decision.

A news release by Bennett called the rulings by the judge and elections board "an activist interpretation" of the city law.

"The definition of marriage affects every person, and should be debated openly, lawfully, and democratically," Bennett said in the release. "The board's decision to deny the people of Washington, D.C. a vote was incorrect and reminiscent of the judicial activism that has imposed gay marriage by fiat and stimulated such discord in other venues. Congress should act to ensure that the question is settled by a democratic ballot initiative process."

-- Nikita Stewart

By Anne Bartlett  |  February 3, 2010; 6:05 PM ET
Categories:  Nikita Stewart , same-sex marriage  
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Comments

Thank you, Messrs. Bennett and Chaffetz for holding DC's feet to the fire. Activism of the kind that the DC Elections Board is an affront to the residents of DC, including (believe it or not) the perverts and their supporters on the DC Council push for special rights.

Posted by: rustybud | February 3, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Too bad neither Senator Bennett nor Rep. Chaffetz have not read the D.C. Human Rights law (much less live in the District). If they had, they would realize that the law, duly enacted by the residents of the District, required allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. And too bad that bigotry is still alive and well -- as well as ad hominem attacks -- in comments posted by WP readers.

Posted by: jeffdc1 | February 3, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Homophobia is intolerance which brings no benefit. Bob Bennett and Jason Chaffetz are men who are committed to the intolerant ideology of social conservatism so they're terrible members of Congress. However, the nonsense bills they introduced won't become law because the majority of Congress want the law which Mayor Fenty signed to be come out intact so that in late winter, same-sex marriages performed in Washington, D.C. will be recognized. Same-sex marriage is a right which must be availible in every state of the United States so a referendum on that right would be a gamble on human rights.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | February 3, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It's good to have people like Bennett and Chaffetz so concerned about us residents of the District and want to step in on our behalf. I especially love the way they talk about the "unelected District of Columbia Board of Elections & Ethics and the unelected District of Columbia Superior Court". But how about the people we DID elect? That's right folks, we also need to be protected from our "out-of-control city council" (their words), an unabashedly liberal council who WE city residents overwhelmingly elected in OUR last election, most of whom have made no secret of their support for same-sex marriage. And while we're at it let's save DC residents from our mayor too, since he supports same-sex marriage and we elected HIM. In other words, please protect us from ourselves because we were apparently too stupid to know who we were voting for.

Oh and BTW, we didn't elect Bennett, Chaffetz, or any of the other senators or representatives who are so concerned about us and are presuming to second-guess our ELECTED representatives on the DC council and our ELECTED mayor.

Posted by: MrDarwin | February 3, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

jeffdc1 wrote:
"...the law, duly enacted by the residents of the District, required allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the District."

Residents of the District have never ever enacted any laws period. The mayor and the city council enact laws in the District. If the District human rights law already allowed same-sex marriages then the city council wouldn't have to pass a law legalizing same-sex marriages.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | February 3, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I submit that those people that are homophobic see something in gays that they do not like in themselves and that is the whole thing in a nutshell.If they had any sense they would be for gay marriage because that is a sure fire way to make them find a way to get straight after going through the hell of a divorce. If children are involved they do not automatically go to the birth mother since there are two mothers as we have seen in the news.

Posted by: peace4all2 | February 4, 2010 6:55 AM | Report abuse

The D.C. Human Rights Law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Explicitly. It falls on the list right between "personal appearance" and "family responsibilities." Now I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume neither Bob Bennett, nor anybody on has staff, has ever read that statute. Or any of D.C.'s other local laws, for that matter. But if they have, it makes the "activist" schtick even more ridiculous than usual.

Posted by: jweissmann | February 4, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

While I appreciate all the dialog about homophobia and the right to gay marriage (which I wholeheartedly support) we miss the absolute irony of Senator Bennett's statement about allowing the citizens to vote... to my knowledge the citizens of the District cannot vote which is why he and every other politician on the hill feel as though they can weigh in on everything Washingtonian.

Posted by: dcgreeneboy | February 4, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

@dcgreenboy - true DC citizens have congressional oversight. If our elected officials are going to "strategically" deny our right to vote then maybe we need to rethink "voting rights"

Posted by: gtownPete | February 6, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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