Thursday, April 09, 2009

Gay Marriage Vote in D.C. to go before Congress

The Boston Globe prints an Associated Press report that the Washington, D.C. city council voted unanimously to recognize gay marriages from states that have legalized them. This vote must then go before the Congress within 30 days for ratification. That opens the way for the new Congress seated after the fall, 2008 elections to reconsider the Defense of Marriage Act which President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996.

A preliminary vote by the District of Columbia's city council to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere puts the issue on a path to Congress, which has final say over D.C.'s laws. That could force lawmakers to take up the politically dicey debate after years of letting it play out in the states.

"Let's be clear, this is a new era," gay D.C. council member David Catania said yesterday, expressing optimism that the city's law would clear Congress after a final council vote in May.

The council's unanimous vote Tuesday came the same day Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage and the first to do so with a legislature's vote. (snip)

Advocates see Washington holding symbolic importance in the debate, but some emphasized that there isn't a dominant battleground in the quest for marriage equality.

"The district is equivalent to a small state, and the only difference is Congress's ability to interfere with local decisions," said David Smith, vice president of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign.

"We would treat it as any other state and move to defend the decision of the Legislature or the courts."

(Read federal DOMA at GPO Access here:
1 USC section 7
28 USC section 1738C
This is an interactive database, so I can't link directly to the cites for you. You must run the search yourself. Look at the instructions and examples to see how to enter the citations I have given you above, and type them into the search box, to retrieve the full text of the statute.

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