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D.C. says 'I do'

The quest for marriage equality sure has taken a beating over the last 12 months. California voters banned same-sex marriage with the passage of Proposition 8. Voters in Maine stopped it at the ballot box last month. Efforts in New York went down in a ball of flames and didn't even get off the ground in New Jersey.

But change has come to Washington.

The council of the District of Columbia voted 11 to 2 to legalize same-sex marriage. This result was not in doubt. Ten of the council's 13 members joined David Catania (I-At Large) as sponsors of the bill. But the victory is no less sweet.

But before folks start booking the Mandarin Oriental for a spring wedding, there's yet another hurdle to clear: Congress. All laws passed in the District are subject to a 30-legislative-day review. If opponents stand a chance of upending today's historic vote, it is there.

Still there are two reasons to hope Congress will let today's vote stand. First, Democrats control Congress. Second, and more important, Congress showed no interest in stopping the city from recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions earlier this year. If it's okay to give recognition to those unions solemnized outside the District, then it certainly should be okay to do so for those eager to marry within the District.

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 15, 2009; 3:04 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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So it has been a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible year for marriage equality. You go over California and Maine where --lest we forget-- the legislatives approved same-sex marriage then we lost the right by getting 48% and 47% of the popular vote.

But what about Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, New Hampshire and now DC? That is 4 states + DC in 12 months. This is simply unprecedented. Using the legislative branch: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, DC.

In actuality despite the highly emotional defeats we had an absolutely great year. Where we lost, we lost by little and we will be able to win in 4-5 years.

Posted by: eramoshdez | December 15, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Congress has more important things to do than worry about whether two people want to be legally recognized as a couple.

Shame on Barry and anyone of color who votes for discrimination.

Posted by: rlj1 | December 15, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

May it be so.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 15, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"Shame on Barry and anyone who votes for discrimination."

Fixed that for you, rlj1.

Posted by: random-adam | December 15, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Gee, an openly gay columnist lionizes the DC City Council for supporting same-sex unions. Enormous surprise factor.

Posted by: bodypolitic | December 15, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse


Oh and what are your arguments pro or against the bill?

And if you were going to dismiss whatever arguments Mr. Capehart would make, why bother to read the article and comment on it?

Posted by: eramoshdez | December 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Actually, he doesn't make any arguments.

And you're right: one should only read articles he knows he's going to agree with.

I'm not a DC resident - and this doesn't encourage me to move here. My reason for opposing same-sex unions are that they demean the institution of marriage, which exists for the formation and nurturing of families.

Posted by: bodypolitic | December 15, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

People, it's not marriage equality. It's marriage redefinition.

If it was marriage equality our Mormon friends could practice plural marriage and people could marry *absolutely* anyone they wanted, including brother and sister.

Civil society gains nothing from gay marriage - only gay people do. Civil society gains from opposite sex marriage by encouraging and requiring a stable platform for the propagation of the human race.

Posted by: oldiesfan1 | December 15, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I happen to know the columnist professionally and I do not respect him. He has schmoozed himself into positions of influence - did it in NY and is now doing so in DC - without benefit of an original thought.

Posted by: bodypolitic | December 15, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The hope is that an openly gay columinist would provide some thoughtful insight to this discussion which has never occured.

African-Americans who have supported this movement have basically demonized other African-americans as the new "George Wallace and Bull Connors" of the Civil rights movement along with white evangelicals.

This discussion from what I've seen has always reduced opponents of gay marriage as homophobic or anti-gay, intolerant etc.

That's what I find so sad about all of this.

Politically the gay movement that I supported in its infancy in the 70's has transformed itself into this very self centered and hedonist movement.

Posted by: chris_r | December 15, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse


Let us celebrate equal rights in DC tonight; you do not live here, nor do you agree with the majority of District residents when it comes to civil rights, apparently. Gay people have families to nuture too, FYI.

Posted by: monongahela79 | December 15, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: bodypolitic My reason for opposing same-sex unions are that they demean the institution of marriage, which exists for the formation and nurturing of families."

Yes, thank goodness for the opposite-sex unions of Tiger Woods, Governor Mark Sanford, Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, Former President Bill Clinton, and Senator David Vitter.

Posted by: borgrav | December 15, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

monongahela79: Gay people have families only through artificial means. That's why this is so tragic: what you truly want is to ape everything you cannot be.

borgrav: Your point on the immoral actions of heterosexuals is well taken. I will not defend immorality in any form and that is why I oppose it in all forms.

Posted by: bodypolitic | December 15, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Tiger Woods all point to the issue of this re-defining marriage

Obviously there are heterosexuals who have'nt got the idea of what it means to be married so why re-define it now?

Are gays suppose to get it right now and show the rest of us the way?

I don't think so.

Posted by: chris_r | December 15, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse


Trust me, I have a family (no test tube babies here, thanks) but I do not want to emulate you at all. I just don't want to pay more taxes. I cannot understand why people like you want to make life more difficult for gays unless it's out of sheer hatred. Just leave us alone!

Posted by: monongahela79 | December 15, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, if marriage hadn't been redefined in the past, people from different racial backgrounds wouldn't be able to marry today.

It used to be that marriages among slaves was defined differently from other marriages (their vow included "till death or distance do us part" instead of just "till death do us part" ). And in even older times, marriage used to be between one man and multiple women (read the Bible if you're not sure). So redefining marriage is nothing new.

Posted by: tvs_tvs | December 15, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and this would not be the first time same-sex marriages were allowed in human history. Multiple ancient civilizations also had same-sex marriages.

Posted by: tvs_tvs | December 15, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Jonathon Capehart,

I have long regarded you as an intelligent, thoughtful, and honest news guy. But this article starts off entirely on the wrong foot.

The quest for marriage equality has NOT taken a beating in the past twelve months. In fact, we have gained 4 additional states, dropped the residency requirement for Massachusetts, gained full rights in Washington state and Nevada (save the word), and have now picked up DC.

So with a 1/2 point each for Washington state, Nevada and Massachusetts, that would make by my count: LGBT - 6-1/2 to BIGOTS - 3. (I don't include Jersey as neither legislative body has voted on the bill yet).

I'd say it's been a BANNER YEAR - and that doesn't even include the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act which is the first pro-LGBT piece of federal legislation ever.

It's a good thing you are not a sportscaster - because you sure have called this one wrong.

John Visser

Posted by: JohnVisser | December 15, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

If marriage is needed to promulgate families and the human race, why are Blacks having 70% of their kids outside it? What is a family? Is it a divorced mother with kids, a foster parent(s) with five foster kids, a father with kids, a grandmother raising a relative's child, friends raising an abandoned child, gay couple raising a child? Is this a family: an abusive alcoholic husband that beats his wife and kids? You get everything here:1)traditional marriage and 2)procreation. Stop trying to define family and marriage for everyone. Go do your own thing and leave others in peace.

Posted by: rcvinson64 | December 15, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Gay marriage may be legal in DC, but Oral Roberts won't be performing any of the ceremonies.


Posted by: MikeLicht | December 16, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

All the expected "wedding chapels" ought to be restricted to the SE section of the District. That ought to build the economy there and give some interesting stories on the way.

Posted by: gary4books | December 16, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

"But before folks start booking the Mandarin Oriental for a spring wedding, there's yet another hurdle to clear: Congress. All laws passed in the District are subject to a 30-legislative-day review. If opponents stand a chance of upending today's historic vote, it is there."

Ah, there's the rub. Who would have thought same sex marriage would come to the district even before full citizenship?

Congratulations to those to whom they are due.

Posted by: martymar123 | December 16, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Capehart,
I enjoyed your article. I don't care if you're gay.

However, even when I don't support your lifestyle, which in my personal thinking is a moral downslide for anyone...I weary of being called a "hater".

Why can't I have the right to disaprove of this lifestyle?

The gay community is trying hard to be something they're a man and woman couple. That can never be.

I don't trash anyone, and I'm sure you and I could be friends, I like you're writing and never knew you were gay before this artice. I won't quit liking you now.

Build the gay community rights without trashing those who disagree. Have a little class and will go a long way.

Posted by: ProudAmerican1 | December 16, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

It is ashamed that DC is the first totalarian regime in America, but appropriate. It is also ashamed that the highly enlightened council did not feel that the people of DC were capable of voting on such and issue. Let's see government for the people, by the people....I mean council. About as un-American as you can get. Next will be Detroit, then Chicago, then San Francisco, then...then...

Posted by: staterighter | December 16, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I was born in Washington many years ago. I loved that town. The diversity in cultures and activities is truly second to none.

I am a conservative with moderate leanings, very heterosexual, married and the father of 2.

I still fail to see exactly what harm allowing gay marriage will do to society.

Religious restrictions? For those that are religious and actively opposing these measures, I would humbly suggest that your time and money may be better spent helping the needy.

If we are going to get all righteous on the "sin" of homosexuality, where is this enthusiasm when it comes to homeless people? Homicides? Rapes? Theft?

I would propose that eliminating these problems would go a great deal further in improving society as a whole.

Legitimizing/legalizing gay marriage does not hurt society in any way.

Heck, these couples will have to pay higher taxes due to the mariage penalty.

The male couples will be able to adopt children, and raise them in loving stable homes, making them productive members of society. Female couples that opt against IVF have the same option.

Can you imagine if only 20% of those fighting for gay marriage win and then use their enthusiasm to fix other societal ills, how much good they can do.

I am still waiting for a reasonable argument as to why this is a bad idea!

Please do not suggest legalization will lead to polygamy, bestiality, etc. That argument is absurd and disingenuous at best.

Posted by: kenskorupski | December 16, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

"My reason for opposing same-sex unions are that they demean the institution of marriage, which exists for the formation and nurturing of families."

No, gay people who love each other and marry do not demean the institution. People like you who insist on defining it by genitalia and breeding ability rather than by love, commitment and fidelity do.

As for your comment about gay people only forming families by "artificial means", I suppose you may believe that children who are brought into a family through adoption, insemination, or other "artificial means" deserve less legal security and protections for their families, but I don't. Are my friends who've adopted a little boy because of infertility less real as a family to you because they didn't conceive and give birth to him? Does he deserve less of a family than my little boy? Do gay people's kids deserve less security and family stability?

Plus, if we based marriage on "the formation and nurturing of children," why don't we ban people who know they can't have children from marriage? What about child abusers? Why do we let people who have tortured, molested, raped and murdered children marry at will? Surely not to encourage them to make and "nurture" more children?

Posted by: Catken1 | December 16, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"Obviously there are heterosexuals who have'nt got the idea of what it means to be married so why re-define it now?"

Because defining marriage by genitalia is demeaning to the institution. Defining marriage by love, commitment and fidelity provides a much stabler basis for urging married couples to adhere to those values.

"Civil society gains nothing from gay marriage - only gay people do." BS. Society benefits from anything that encourages its citizens to be responsible and stable - as marriage, straight and gay, does - and that discourages promiscuity and the spread of STDs.

"Why can't I have the right to disaprove of this lifestyle?"

You can disapprove of it all you like, though it's rather like disapproving of someone for having blue eyes. What you can't do is deny someone the right to choose their own consenting adult spouse because you disapprove of that spouse.

And I get SO tired of this, "Why are you calling me a hater? I just want to tell you how immoral, sick and wrong it is for you to marry the love of your life! I just want to use the secular law to take away your marriage, hurt your family, and treat you as a second-class citizen - but I'm civil to you in public! Doesn't that make me all loving and tolerant and such?" Fine, you don't trash gay people to their faces (except for calling them immoral and telling them you disapprove of who they are - oh, no, that's not insulting at ALL). But you do support laws that interfere in their private business, attack their families, and seek to make theirs and their kids' lives harder for no real reason other than your personal disapproval of their choices. You want to cause them hurts every day ranging from minor annoyances to major heartbreak and anguish. And then you get surprised when you're labeled a "hater?" If I punch you in the nose, are you going to praise me for love and tolerance? What you're doing to gay people goes way beyond punches in the nose, and yet you complain that they don't love you back. Pooor, pooooor baby.

You're doing real harm to people you don't even know, who've never hurt you. You're seeking to trash their marriages and their families. Don't get all ingenuous and surprised when they get angry about it.

"The gay community is trying hard to be something they're a man and woman couple. That can never be."

No, gay couples are trying hard to be what they are - loving, committed, MARRIED gay couples.

You're trying hard to claim to be something you're not - moral. But as long as you attack other people's families, doing damage to the lives of perfect strangers who've never harmed you (not to mention their innocent and helpless kids), just because you want to have the government tell you you're a better person than them, that can never be.

Posted by: Catken1 | December 16, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Staterighter, can I vote on your right to choose your spouse next? How about your right to buy whatever color shirt you like? Can I vote to deny you the right to adopt a kid or buy a house or hold a job in particular fields because I don't approve of your religion? Can I vote to tell you (or your kids) where to go to college, or what to major in when you/they get there?

What business is it of yours whether or not your neighbor is allowed to marry, as long as both involved are consenting adults? Why do you believe you should have the right to veto some of your neighbors' personal family choices, which don't even affect you?

Posted by: Catken1 | December 16, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I think maybe if same sex marriage must be called marriage, then maybe traditional marriages should go ahead and be called something else, like, I don't know sunshine, or taxi cab or maybe anything else.

Posted by: tfletch1 | December 16, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Liberal councils and courts continue to defy the will of the American majority.

Like most liberal programs it has to be forced down the throats of unwilling citzens.

Very UNdemocratic to say the least.

DC, the homosexual capitol.

Simply fabulous!

Posted by: battleground51 | December 17, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I was hoping someone would answer my question posted yesterday about why this is such a bad idea.

Catken1, while I understand your frustration, I believe you may be tilting at windmills.

I despise the tendency to label opponents of gay marriage as homophobic. It is trite and overly simplistic.

However, I would suggest that we try to address the "ick factor", if you will forgive me, that many heterosexuals experience when considering homosexuality.

People, by their very nature, oppose that which they do not understand. If it is different, we are immediately cautious.

Let's face it, the various Gay Pride parades we are exposed to do not go very far in bridging the gap. Yes this is far from the norm among the gay population, but without other examples, they only strengthen the resolve of opponents.

Bare with me here, because I am going to exploit some stereotypes

When I was a single man, I never understood why straight males were so anti-gay. Granted they dressed better and typically were more easy-going than the average straight male, but from my perspective, the more of them, the less competition I had to deal with.

Now, when I get up in the morning, in my home, I look at my wife and kids and feel joy at how lucky I am. Not only do I not give a damn about what is going on in my neighbors home, I wonder why we would want to oppose anybody else with the same goals.

What exactly will happen if homosexuals are allowed to marry? I can name more than a few couples I have met that probably never should have married in the first place, but their decision HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on my family.

What exactly do you think gay people will do to their children? Raise them to be bad citizens? Criminals? Deviants?

There are STILL human beings. What parent wants anything but the best for their child?

It is none of my business what the neighbors do in their bedroom, just as it is none of their damn business what I do in mine (snore).

I am concerned about my property values, what my government is doing to protect me and my family, when will the recession finally end and people can get back to work, how my kids are doing in school, why did it take so long for Vinny Cerrato to resign, what am I going to have for dinner tonight (spaghetti, I think), when will we be finished with Christmas shopping, etc.

When you really think about it, how does allowing gay marriage affect you? You.

Will you quit your job? Divorce your spouse? Beat your children? Burn down your house? Rob a bank?

Or will you get up in the morning, as you did today, and continue on doing the same things that make you who you are? Loving your family and friends, going to the grocery store, screaming at the Redskins, hugging your kids, making sure the oil has been changed in your vehicle, and being you.

Sorry, but I really do not see the big deal here. The moral thing to do here is continue taking care of your repsonsibilities and stay out of your neighbors bedroom.

Posted by: kenskorupski | December 17, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

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