Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Washington, D.C. City Council Votes to Recognize Gay Marriages

The Washington Post has an in-depth article about the D.C. city council voting to recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. This is both a little step (they are not authorizing gay marriage in the district), and a big step, because now Congress and the President have to deal with the issue. It also may be a precursor to actually voting on legalizing gay marriage in D.C.

The article is an interesting read as it lays out the battle ground, with the black community largely in opposition.

"All hell is going to break lose," [civil rights leader and Council member Marion] Barry said. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has said he will sign the bill recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The council's action puts the matter before Congress, which under the Home Rule Charter has 30 days to review District legislation. The bill could present the House and Senate with their biggest test on the same-sex marriage issue since Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.

At least one GOP member said yesterday that he will try to block the bill from becoming law.

"Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking Republican on a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the District. "It's not something I can let go softly into the night. . . . I recognize the Democrats are in the majority, but I represent the majority of Americans on this issue."

Several council members and gay rights advocates are hopeful that the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate will be able to stop congressional intervention.

"I do not believe that a serious attempt to overturn the council bill will be made or will be successful," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), who praised the council's decision.

But the emotional debate that took place yesterday at the Wilson Building suggests that the issue could be divisive in a city with a long history of racial tension in politics.
The article is worth a read, in part because it brings out the tensions between the civil rights aspects of the struggle and the church-based opposition (not all churches oppose gay marriage, though!). Poor Marion Barry is torn in the middle of all this, and you can see, he is nearly ripped in half between representing the majority of his constituents, who do oppose gay marriage, and hewing to his civil rights roots. Because he does, apparently recognize the issue of gay marriage as a civil rights issue. Very interesting. And now, folks, it is a hot potato into the hands of Congress. Yee, haw.

Nice timing, too, since our swans, Romeo and Juliet just returned to Boston's Public Gardens yesterday, from the Franklin Park Zoo, where they spend the winter.

1 comment:

Ms. OPL said...

The article says the black community is opposed to this. Since DC is overwhelmingly black, who is on the council? only whites?