City Desk

Gay Marriage Passes Final D.C. Council Vote

City lawmakers voted this afternoon to legalize same-sex marriages, making the District of Columbia the fifth jurisdiction in the country to have its elected legislature pass such a measure.

"Today is the final step in a long march toward equality in the District of Columbia," said At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, who shepherded the bill through the D.C. Council.

The council now will present the bill for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's signature, which is likely to come Thursday. Once the bill is signed, it will be transmitted to Congress, where it will await the end of a 30-legislative-day review period.

The 11-2 final vote brings to a close a legislative process whose outcome has never been in doubt. Prior to the marriage bill's introduction in September, gay-marriage proponents had secured the support of a supermajority of councilmembers and, in a test vote of sorts, passed a measure recognizing same-sex marriages from other states and countries. More than that, the vote—supported by all except Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry—is the result of decades of work by the District's gay community in amassing and wielding political power, electing supportive officials who have over the course of nearly two decades, systematically dismantled the mechanics of discrimination against gays and lesbians here in Washington. And the timing of today's vote is a strategic one, set to avoid to the greatest degree meddling from Capitol Hill and other forces.

Despite the foregone conclusion, dozens on both sides of the debate gather at the John A. Wilson Building to witness the vote—not to mention lots of cameras and unfamiliar reporters. Bishop Harry Jackson and other clergy who opposed the measure were sitting in the front row in the council chambers, but many more seats were filled by supporters of the council's action today.

Over 40 minutes of discussion ahead of the vote, each of the council's 13 members spoke. Most thanked At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, the author and prime mover behind the bill. Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells issued a warning: "There will be attacks, there will be an effort to undo this....I know that we will fight back." Barry and Alexander both declared their support for the gay community on other issues.

The D.C. Council follows the legislatures of California, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut in passing same-sex marriage legislation. Only the laws in Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut now stand, and Connecticut's lawmakers only voted through the measure after its Supreme Court ruled that it must. (California passed gay marriage measures in 2005 and 2007, only to have them vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Maine had its gay marriage law overturned by a referendum last month.)

Overturning the measure during 30-day congressional review period would require majority votes from both houses of Congress, plus the signature of President Barack Obama. That outcome is unlikely. A congressional challenge to the District's vote is more likely through other avenues: First off, lawmakers could place a restriction on the city's spending that would effectively nullify the law, but the earliest that would happen is approximately a year from now. Alternately, a gay-marriage rider could be added to any other congressional provision—much as restrictions on city gun laws were added to the bill that would have granted the District a vote in the House of Representatives.

More immediately threatening may be the prospect of judicial intervention. Lawyers financed by national conservative organizations have vowed to challenge the gay marriage measure on a variety of grounds, including whether the District's home rule charter requires elections officials to allow a public vote on the issue and also whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act applied to local laws in the District of Columbia.

But today's victory will be sweet nonetheless to marriage supporters. A celebratory gathering is scheduled for tonight at the Long View Gallery in Shaw, starting at 7:30. And LL has learned that a signing ceremony is in the works, which would mark the first time in many, many months that Fenty has stood with councilmembers to finalize a piece of legislation. That event is expected to happen Thursday.

UPDATE, 3:20 P.M.: LL mistakenly reported that if Fenty and councilmembers gather for a signing ceremony, that would mark the first time such an event had happened. Not true: There's at least two occasions where Fenty has held a public bill-signing, with council participation: The mayoral school takeover in April 2007, and a Darfur divestment measure passed in November 2007.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/ Mr. T in DC

    Yay!

  • noodlez

    YOU COCKSUCKERS CAN JUMP AROUND ALL YOU WANT NOW BUT IN THE END THE RESIDENTS OF THIS CITY WILL HAVE THE FINAL SAY!

    HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOICE
    YOU ARE NOT BORN A HOMOSEXUAL!

    FENTY, GAYTANIA, GRAHAM, AND BOWSER MUST GO!

  • Reid

    Sounds like Noodlez/Ward Four Voter is trying to convince himself more than anyone else. Just be happy Noodlez! You can finally come out and marry whomever your hear wishes!

  • hysteric

    That's so great!

    When I read something like, "Lawyers financed by national conservative organizations have vowed to challenge the gay marriage measure on a variety of grounds," I'm completely baffled. Really? That's what you're going to spend your time and energy fighting for? So depressing.

    When I read something like Noodlez' comment, I want to vom. So pathetic.

  • cminus

    Noodlez, I always ask this question of anyone who says that homosexuality is a choice:

    Why would anyone choose to be homosexual?

    As the straight child of gay parents I have a unique insight into issues of sexual orientation, but I still can't understand why, if sexual orientation were really a matter of choice, anyone would choose the option that gives you a smaller pool of potential partners and the hatred and scorn of a large minority of the population. I don't think my parents chose to be gay any more than I chose to be straight, and their sexual orientation is no more or less legitimate than mine.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Well, looks like feud is back on Noodlez. I can't sit idly by while you rant about your inner fears. I guess you don't get attracted to females, you merely stick your limp dick into whichever prostitute you have to pay for sex and wiggle around for a bit. How many gays do you know? And how many of them have actually said that they aren't born like this but decided when puberty reached that they would choice to take a world full of bigots like yourself and be gay.

    Liz Cheney, who's father is the embodiment of Christian bigotry, is gay. Coming from his house, do you think any reasonable person will simply choice to be gay and face the wrath of the devil himself?

    Get real you limp dick basturd.

  • JohnD

    Actually Maine's law was overturned by a "people's veto." So it no longer stands.

    Great day to be a citizen of the District of Columbia! I STILL find it interesting that the conservative diatribe over the past years as related to this was that marriage law is a legislative issue and the courts shouldn't be involved. How do they explain the fact that now that legislatures are passing marriage equality laws, it is now the conservatives going to "unelected, activist judges" to try to overturn these laws. Or worse in the case of DC, the US Congress in which we don't even have a vote.

    I guess the system works as long as it is working in your favor.

    A message to the anti-marriage equality folks: if you don't like what the council did, then vote out your councilmember. But you have no right to vote on my marriage.

  • Monique

    Ignore Noodlez..he's mad because I didnt cut him in on the profit when I was selling his wife and mamas ass last week. Oh mama noodlez brought in about 100 bucks a pop. but his wife got 250 cuz you were able to remove her artificial legs and more guys had access..so the line moved faster.

  • PearlsBeforeSwine

    The interesting thing to me was that after the measure passed there was a big round of applause. Yvette Alexander pulled out her iPod and had a big smile on her face while she took pictures of the crowd from the dais.

    Were her ward members not generally opposed to the measure and her priests telling her she would go to hell, it is interesting to speculate on what her vote would have been.

    Of course Alexander and Barry will both tell you they support equality. Just not full equality.

  • Typical DC BS

    This is the way gay rights issues should be handled. A legislative body has voted to legalize gay marriage. Forget dealing with the court system.

    If you don't like what happened, then vote your representative out and vote someone in who will change things. I highly doubt that will happen in the District of Columbia, given the demographics of the city.

    Congratulations to all those additional citizens who can now legally marry in DC.

  • noodlez

    Reid SORRY GURL IM ALREADY OUT AND HAPPILY MARRIED. I TOOK PLUNGE 20 YRS AGO THIS PAST SEPT 2009. I LOVE EVERY THING ABOUT MY MARRIAGE TO A BEAUTIFUL BLACK LADY. MARK MY WORDS THIS WILL BE REPEALED WHEN PUT UP FOR A VOTE AND I WANT YOU TO SHOW THE SAME ECSTASY THEN AS YOU ARE SHOWING NOW!

    *********************************************************

    cminus I CANT ANSWER THAT BECAUSE IM NOT A HOMOSEXUAL! WE ALL MAKE CHOICES IN LIFE. YOU MADE A CHOICE TO BE NORMAL WHEN YOUR PARENTS CHOSE TO BE ABNORMAL.

    WHILE I RESPECT YOUR UNIQUENESS. THE ANSWER YOU PROVIDED TO YOUR QUESTION PROVES THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH A PERSON WHO JOINS UP WITH A GROUP THAT IS SUBJECT TO SCORN BY A LARGE MAJORITY OF THE POPULOUS HERE IN THIS COUNTRY. BEING GAY IS THE EQUIVALENT TO JOING THE KKK IN THE YEAR 2009. CONTRARY TO YOUR STATEMENT THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LARGE MINORITY.

    ********************************************************

    Adrian Bent-Me YOU SPECIAL. WE GO BACK SO I WILL DEDICATE A SEPARATE COMMENT DIRECTED AT YA!

    *********************************************************

    Monique I APPLAUDE YOUR EFFORT. IM TOUGH. A SIMPLE FLESH WOUND FROM YOUR COMMENT ONLY MAKES ME GO STRAIGHT UP RAMBO ON YOUR ASS.

    HOMSEXUALITY COMES FROM ALL YOU WEAK MINDED THANGS THAT CANT CONTROL YOUR PERVERTED URGES. PERIOD.

    WHAT YOU NEED TO DO IS TAKE ALL THAT DICK SUCKIN, POOP SHOOTER PLUGGER, LIP SMACKIN ENERGY DOWN TO GAYTANIA'S OFFICE AND TELL HIM TO PUT THE SAME EFFORT INTO THE AIDS CRISIS AS HE DID THIS BOONDOGGLE. THEN AGAIN MAYBE NOT CAUSE THIS SHIT WILL NOT COME TO FRUITION AND I WOULD HATE TO SEE THE SAME FOR THE AIDS CRISIS.

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  • Q!

    Noodlez, your comments are non-PC, insulting to some, and stereotypical. However, you indeed have a point on how this legislation was seemingly given an express pass while others, especially the AIDS epidemic languish. I wonder if we put the phrase "marriage equity" on other legislation will it be passed with little opposition and with applause. How about "marriage equity confirmation/removal of DPR Director", "marriage equity DCPS budget reform", "marriage equity Public Notification of Sale/Release of DC Property", etc. You get the point.

  • Monique

    Noodlez...always does this....he's bored at home...ignore him.

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  • cminus

    Um, Noodlez, have you ever chosen whether to be straight or gay? Have you you ever been tempted to be gay? If you're like me, the answer to both those questions is "no". So why would you think that gay people chose to be gay? If you can't ever imagine being sexually attracted to members of the same sex under any circumstances, doesn't it seem likely that someone who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex would have to be put together differently from you?

    And "large minority" is a fair description of Americans who hate gay people generally, rather than gay marriage specifically. (A "large minority" is a perfectly legitimate term referring to a proportion less than half, but still reasonably close. For example, in the District, white people could be called a large minority, while Cherokee would definitely be a small minority.) National polls suggest that around 40% of Americans support gay marriage; when you add people who have no objection to gay people so long as they don't try to marry each other, the active anti-gay movement represents a whole lot of people, but still less than half the country.

  • myen

    Same-sex marriage legalized in the district of columbia? I am chocked and couldn't belief that D.C councils gave in and allowed immoral acts of gays and lesbains marriage to be official.

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  • noodlez

    Adrian Bent-Me IM BAAAACK! SORRY ABOUT THE DELAY. I HAD TO GET MY DAUGHTER HER CHRISTMAS TREE.

    F.Y.I. SWEET CHEEKS THE ONLY FEAR I HAVE IS DYING WAY TOO EARLY THAT I DONT SEE MY CHILDREN FULFILL THEIR GOALS. OTHER THAN THAT IM PREPARED TO GO THE NEXT LIFE. I JUST HOPE THE FOLKS THERE ARE NOT HOMOSEXUAL BECAUSE THEN I WOULD KNOW THAT IVE REACHED HELL!

    I DONT BANG HO'S. THERE IS NO NEED. SHORTY TAKES CARE OF HERS. BESIDES TOO MANY CONFUSED FOLK OUT HERE PLAYIN WITH ONE ANOTHER WITH NO SCRUPLES. FOR THA RECORD BRO AINT SPORTIN NO LIMPY. IM MR MILITARY MAN(ALWAYS AT ATTENTION AND READY FO ACSHUN!).

    AS FOR YOUR QUESTION THEY ARE WHITE, BLACK AND LATINO AND SPLIT 50-50 ON THEIR GENESIS. A COUPLE WAS TURNED OUT BY COUSINS AND FRIENDS. THEY JUST CONTINUED ON WITH THE BEHAVIOR BECAUSE THEY WERE CONFUSED. WHILE THE REST WAS MERRY & GAY AND TURNED TO HOMOSEXUALITY TO GET THEIR FIX.

    MIND JUST GONE! THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE THE MENTAL CAPACITY FOR IS HOW THEY GONNA SOME DICK. PITIFUL.

    WHILE MR CHANEY PROBABLY DETESTS HOMOSEXUALS HE LIKE ME HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH LESBIANS. I CANT SPEAK ON LESBIANS BECAUSE IM NOT A FEMALE. I KNOW AS A MAN THE ONLY THING I SHOULD BE STICKING MY MANHOOD IN IS A VAJAYJAY (A LIL FEMALE TOP PIECE COMES EXTRA WHEN A BRO ACT RIGHT). ALL OTHER MEN SHOULD BE DOING THE SAME.

    SEE WE STRAIGHT BLACK MEN TAKE PRIDE IN OUR MANHOOD, OUR WOMEN AND OUR FAMILIES. THAT IS WHY WE ARE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS ISSUE. WE DONT WANT TO SHARE THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE WITH YOUR KIND. IF WE WANT TO SCREW THE MARRIAGE UP WE CAN BECAUSE ITS OURS.

    UNFORTUNATELY Adrian Bent-Me I AM REAL AS IT GETS. THERE IS NOTHIN FAKE ABOUT YOUR BOY! ALL YALL FAKE ASS FAGGIES RUNNING HERE AND HIDING IN YOUR OVER PRICED TWO BEDROOM CONDOS WITH YOUR CLONED VEHICLES SIPPIN' ON STARBUCKS AND DICK. GET REAL, GO HOME AND TELL YOUR FOLKS AND NEIGHBORS WHO YOU REALLY ARE!

  • http://NotionsCapital.com Mike Licht

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

    See:

    http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/dc-legalizes-gay-marriage-oral-roberts-drops-dead/

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  • America

    It doesn't really matter because we all know America will get together to kill every single gay from coast to coast. From entertainers to the spy terrorist scum they really are. If gays want a war with America so badly, they should be careful what they wish for because America will give them that war.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Noodlez- My own comment section because I'm special. I'm honored to have your concentrated hate. Your rant proves my point. I really have tremendous sympathy for your children because they have to grow up in a household that is fill with intolerance and hatred. Everything you spout is un-Christian so the afterlife you're prepared for, you should bring a lot of sun-tan lotion.

    You're not a real person, because you would never say this shit publically. And the claim that you know what to do with your manhood, good for you, why not let other men do what they want with their own manhood. Trying to control people with religion can't work. I was born a Christian but the more I met idiots like you, the less the religion appeals to me.

  • Jake

    If the capital city can do it – so can every capital city of every state in the country! This is another large step in the right direction for America and American freedoms. Know how to help! Here's a good resource:http://tictacdo.com/ttd/Defend-Your-Support-of-Gay-Marriage-Rights (ignore the lipstick, I have no idea why it's there – this is a quality article.) Another point for DC vs NYC.

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  • Jake

    Freedom, it turns out, is good for the economy? Revolutionary! And 11-2 – a milestone indeed!

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