DC board rejects ballot initiative challenging law recognizing same-sex marriages

[JURIST] The District of Columbia Board of Election and Ethics [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF; press release] Tuesday that Washington DC's Jury and Marriage Act (JAMA) [DC ST § 46-405.01 text], which allows DC to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions, could not be challenged by a ballot initiative because overturning the law would violate the DC Human Rights Act (HRA) [text]. If passed, Marriage Initiative 2009 [text, PDF] would have overturned JAMA and declared, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized in the district of Columbia." The Board held:

The District’s Initiative, Referendum and Recall Procedures Act requires the Board to refuse to accept referenda and initiatives which violate the HRA. Because the Initiative would authorize discrimination prohibited by the HRA, it is not a proper subject for initiative, and may not be accepted by the Board.
An attorney for the group Stand For Marriage DC [advocacy website], which sponsored the initiative, said the group plans to appeal [AP report] Tuesday's decision.

JAMA took affect [JURIST report] in July after Congress chose not to oppose the law. In May, the DC Council voted 12-1 to approve JAMA [JURIST report]. The DC Council gave the bill preliminary approval in April [JURIST report]. Currently, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa [JURIST reports] allow same-sex marriages to be performed within the state.

 

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