The Washington, DC, city council voted for the second time today to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill passed in an 11 to 2 vote. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has already agreed to sign the measure. If the bill is not overturned during a mandatory 30 day congressional review, then Washington D.C. will join Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont in granting same-sex marriages. Congress has expressed little interest in intervening with the law and did not intervene when the DC City Council voted to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages in July. The law likely will go into effect in March 2010.
Prior to the vote, all members on the Council spoke. David Catania (I-At Large), who originally wrote and co-introduced the bill with ten of the city’s 13 Council members in October, called the bill a “matter of social justice” prior to the vote, according to the Associated Press. Catania is also one of two openly gay members of the Council. Also according to the Associated Press, two council members voted “I do” during the vote.
After its introduction, the bill was revised to expand a provision allowing religious organizations to refuse to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies. The final version alters a provision addressing domestic partnerships and removes language that originally stipulated that domestic partnerships would be phased out once same-sex marriage is allowed. DC will be the only place in the country where same-sex couples can choose to marry or enter a domestic partnership.
Despite today’s vote, there has been recent dissension within DC on the issue of same sex marriage. In recent weeks, the Catholic Church Archdiocese of Washington, DC has threatened to stop offering social services if the city passes the bill to legalize same-sex marriage. There have also been several legal attempts to prevent same-sex marriage in the District.