DC Appeals Court Rejects Marriage
Special Report - July 20, 2010
The ongoing legal battle in the District of Columbia over whether residents should be allowed to vote on the legal definition of marriage may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5 to 4 ruling issued July 15, the D.C. Court of Appeals narrowly upheld a controversial decision by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to not allow the citizens of D.C. to vote on the Marriage Initiative of 2009, which states that “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia.”
The case began in November 2009, when the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics rejected the Marriage Initiative of 2009, arguing that allowing the residents of D.C. to vote on the legal definition of marriage would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, which includes “sexual orientation” in its list of protected categories. In response, attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and StandforMarriageDC immediately filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court, arguing that the D.C. Charter, which is similar to a state constitution, “guarantees citizens the right to initiate and vote on any legislation except for” laws that appropriate funds. But in May 2010 the Superior Court rejected their arguments and upheld the decision by the Board of Elections and Ethics. That decision was appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which has now narrowly upheld the lower court decision. “Because appellants’ proposed initiative would authorize, or have the effect of authorizing, discrimination on a basis prohibited by the Human Rights Act, it was not a proper subject of initiative. Therefore, the Board acted lawfully in refusing to accept the initiative on that basis."
“In America, we respect the right to vote. The citizens of the District of Columbia should not have their voices suppressed by the government, but that is exactly what is happening here,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks, who argued before the appeals court on May 4, in a press release. “The decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals means that those living in our nation’s capitol are being denied their most fundamental freedom: the right to vote. We are considering our options to right this wrong, which include asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider this case.”
The lawsuit is Jackson #2 v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics.
As we have previously reported, D.C. began issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples in March 2010, as a result of a marriage redefinition law passed by the D.C. City Council in December 2009. To date, five states plus D.C. have redefined marriage to include homosexual couples. ADF and StandforMarriageDC are involved in a separate lawsuit, Jackson #3 v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, involving the right of the people of D.C. to vote in a referendum on the marriage redefinition law. That lawsuit is currently being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
DC Issues Homosexual Marriage Licenses - March 4, 2010
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