On January 14, a Washington, D.C., Superior Court rejected, for the second time, a proposed initiative to roll back legislation passed by the D.C. Council extending marriage in the District to same-sex couples. In June, a D.C. Superior Court judge rejected a similar lawsuit that sought to force a public vote on legislation that, at the time, allowed D.C. to recognize marriages by same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions.
The January ruling upheld the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics’ ruling rejecting the proposed initiative as an improper subject matter for a public vote. The lawsuit was brought by several national antigay activists and backed by 39 Republican members of Congress. The legislation extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in the District is set to become effective at the conclusion of the Congressional review period, likely in early March.
The decision confirmed that under D.C. law, no ballot initiative may authorize discrimination under the Human Rights Act, which, among other things, prohibits the government from denying services or benefits based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This second, back-to-back ruling by the D.C. Superior Court is an overwhelming victory for fairness, the rule of law, and the protection of all D.C. residents against discrimination,” said Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign president. “As D.C. law justifiably recognizes, no initiative should be permitted to strip away any individual’s civil rights.”
Five states recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
Five states—California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada—provide same-sex couples with access to the state-level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. – by Nancy Ford