DC Council gives final approval to same-sex marriage bill

DC Council gives final approval to same-sex marriage bill

[JURIST] The Council of the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill that would allow same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive] to be performed in Washington, DC. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 [text, PDF] passed with a vote of 11-2, despite opposition from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington [organization website], which has pledged to end social services [JURIST report] if the bill becomes law. The bill will now go before DC Mayor Adrian Fenty [official profile], who has promised to sign it [Washington Post report], after which the US Congress would have 30 legislative days to veto it under the Home Rule Act [text, PDF]. If Congress fails to act, the bill will then become law at the expiration of that time. Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander [official profiles] cast the dissenting votes.

Last month, the District of Columbia Board of Election and Ethics [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Jury and Marriage Act (JAMA) [text, PDF], 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 [text]. JAMA took effect [JURIST report] in July after congressional inaction. If the marriage bill becomes law, DC will become the sixth US jurisdiction to recognize marriage between same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in four states in the US – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont – and will be legal in New Hampshire [JURIST reports] starting January 1.