DC Superior Court rejects gay marriage referendum
Washington Post"These clear manifestations of intent to alter the traditional definition of marriage did not exist when Dean was decided," the judge wrote. "Dean expressly relied upon the absence of such indications in concluding that the Council intended to retain the definition of marriage as occurring only between a man and a woman. Under these circumstances, Dean's holding is no longer controlling."
A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage opponents do not have a right to hold a public referendum on whether those marriages should be legal in the District.
The ruling is a major victory for gay rights activists.
The District will start allowing same-sex couples to marry in March.
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has twice ruled that a referendum or initiative on same-sex marriage would violate a city law prohibiting a public vote on a matter covered by the Human Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination against gay men and lesbians and other minority groups.
But Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, appealed that ruling in superior court. Last week, 39 GOP congressmen filed a brief in support of Jackson's appeal, arguing that the elections board overstepped its authority in denying a public vote on whether marriage should be defined as a being between a man and a woman.
In her ruling, Judge Judith N. Macaluso stated the board "properly rejected the proposed initiative" because of the Human Rights Act.
The judge also rejected arguments that same-sex marriage should be illegal in the District because of the 1995 Dean v. District of Columbia decision.
In that case, the Court of Appeals ruled that the city did not have to recognize same-sex marriage because the intent of the government opposing such marriages was clear. Now, Macaluso concludes, the intent of the government in favor of allowing two men or two women to marry is clear.