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DC Board of Elections Rejects Same-Sex Marriage Recognition Referendum

The Washington, DC Board of Elections and Ethics rejected a proposed referendum Monday that would have allowed voters to decide whether the District will recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. The board’s ruling (see PDF), found that the proposed referendum “would authorize discrimination prohibited by the Human Rights Act” and would “strip same-sex couples of the rights and responsibilities of marriage that they were afforded by virtue of entering into valid marriages elsewhere.”

The group who sought the referendum, led by Bishop Harry Jackson, plans to request a hearing in DC Superior Court to challenge the election board’s decision, reported the Washington Times.

The Washington, DC City Council passed legislation in May that will enable the District to recognize same sex marriages performed in other states if it is not blocked by Congress. Since Congress has jurisdiction over DC, they are able to block this legislation by passing a joint resolution and having this resolution approved by the president. A bill that sought to institute a Defense of Marriage Act for the District of Columbia defining marriage as between a man and a woman was introduced and referred to committee in May, but no further action was taken. If Congress does not take further action before July, the measure will become law. Washington, DC Councilmember David Catania (I) has said he will introduce a same sex marriage bill this year.

Sources:

Feminist Daily Newswire 5/22/09; DC Board of Elections and Ethics 6/15/09; Washington Times 6/17/09; HR 2608