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Suit Filed in Attempt to Force DC Definition of Marriage Vote

Bishop Harry Jackson filed a lawsuit against the Washington, DC Board of Elections and Ethics Wednesday, in an attempt to force a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage in the District. The Board rejected the initiative proposal Tuesday citing that it is discriminatory and would therefore violate the city’s Human Right’s Act, according to the Washington Post.

Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for the legal group representing Jackson, told the Washington Post, “the people of DC have a right to vote on the definition of marriage…the DC Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny the citizens the right to vote.” The Board defended its position by pointing out that the city’s Human Rights Act says that the public may not vote on an issue that would discriminate against a minority group.

The Board also referred to the Human Rights Act in June, when they blocked a ballot initiative concerning whether or not the city would recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, according to the Washington Post.

Jackson originally filed the ballot initiative in response to the DC Council Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary’s approval of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital. The Council is expected to pass the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 (see PDF) in a final vote scheduled for December. Adrian Fenty, mayor of the District, has stated he will sign the bill.

Sources:

Washington Post 11/18/09, 11/19/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/11/09

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