On an 11-to-2 vote, the D.C. city council passed a measure today legalizing same-sex marriage. However monumental this decision may prove to be, there is unfortunately some opposition ahead. Opponents have vowed to overturn the bill through referendum or by interfering with the 30 day review process in Congress. “The City Council’s action today is not the final word,” said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville.
Same-sex couples could potentially be getting married by March if the bill gets a stamp of approval from Congress in its 30 day legislative review period. Mike DeBonis highlights some of the possible drama to come,
King et al. are making the rounds of congressional offices hoping to drum up interest in Capitoll Hill intervention into the council vote. King boasts a full schedule of meetings, and says the refrain he’s hearing is this: “Let the people vote!”
At-Large Councilmember David A. Catania, prime supporter of the marriage bill, says he’s got strategy of his own. “I was on the Hill last week,” he says. “I’m not going to telegraph to the world what our plans are….Rest assured we are working very diligently to defend this victory on the Hill. in the worst case scenario….we’ll get up the next day and begin pushing the boulder up the hill.”
As for the legal side, King and Jackson put a lot of faith in their attorneys, from the Alliance Defense Fund: “I believe that we have the best legal team in America,” King says. A hearing is set for Jan. 6 before a Superior Court judge on one suit to force a popular vote on marriage.
For his part, Catania notes that anti-marriage forces have already been dealt an early loss in Superior Court, and that the lawyers tasked with defending the city’s decision are no slouches. “You never know when you go before an independent judiciary; nothing is assured,” he says. “But I think our arguments are sound, and we’re working were hard to put an architecture in place of legal justifications for our actions. We’ve had a good track record so far, and I expect that to continue.”
In fact, Catania says he’s less scared of the lawsuits than of the prospect of a “nongermane amendment” getting added to some random congressional measure—and that’s a threat that will continue indefinitely. “There’s no question were going to be defending this, and defending it and defending it, until the other side realizes it’s costing them more votes than gaining them,” he says.
In the best-case scenario, same-sex couples can expect to get married by early-to-mid-March, after Congress’ 30-legislative-day review period expires. Or it might take much longer. In any case, expect a surfeit of quasi-apocalyptic rhetoric as the debate proceeds.
“I’m going to use the full power of the black church to kill this bill,” says the Rev. Anthony Evans of Mount Zion Baptist Church. “I feel pity for those who voted for this because they have defied the will of God. We have warned them.”
Adds King: “The battle may have been won here today, but the war is on, and we intend to win God’s war.”
This would be a historic move in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States, making D.C. the 6th U.S. jurisdiction to do so. In addition, this assimilation of gay and lesbian couples into the institution of marriage would benefit the local economy as well. The Washington Business Journal reports that
The city could reap between $15,000 and $1 million in annual tax revenue during the first three years of nuptials, according to an analysis by the office of Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, performed at the request of the bill’s sponsor, Councilman David Catania, I-At large.
Gandhi’s office estimates that between 2,000 and 21,000 couples will marry in D.C. during that span, including half of the roughly 3,900 same-sex couples in D.C. and one-quarter of the same-sex couples in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Andrew (AJ) is a vehement progressive, youth activist, and reproductive justice organizer. When he's not busy with the movement, you can usually find him dancing in the club or watching trashy reality tv.