Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marion Barry protest @ DC Anti-Marriage Rally

Ward 8 D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry today said that he opposes a measure that would allow the District of Columbia to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. Barry made his remarks to a crowd of around 150 gathered to protest the legislation in Freedom Plaza this morning.

"We have to say 'no' to same-sex marriage in D.C.," Barry told the crowd, echoing a statement made minutes before by Rev. George Gilbert of the Holy Trinity United Baptist Church in Northeast. Barry was not present at the April 7 Council session where the bill, introduced by At-large Council member Phil Mendelson (D), passed unanimously in a preliminary vote.

"If I had been, I would have voted 'no,'" Barry added. "I am a politician who is moral."

Last year, when he was running for re-election, Barry told the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club that he would vote in favor of gay marriage legislation.

Today's "Stand Up for Marriage" protest was organized by Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. Several Baptist ministers from both within and outside D.C. came to the microphone to denounce Council action that would extend any form of marriage rights to gays and lesbians in the District.

"It's really interesting that they had to bring people in from outside D.C.," noted Ward 4 resident Sharon McGowan, 35, who sported a pro-LGBT rights T-shirt as she sat quietly on the far edge of the plaza, watching.

Much of the arguments made at the rally were an effort to suggest that the Council was taking action not supported by most D.C. residents. Many people in the crowd said they had been encouraged to attend the rally in church, by their pastors.

"With something as serious as this, the people need to be heard," said Ward 5 resident Leila Franklin, who showed up in support of the rally.

Due to its overwhelming support on the Council, the legislation is expected to pass a final vote, scheduled for May 5, easily. Mayor Fenty also reiterated to the Washington Post today that he disagrees with the pastors.

Openly gay At-large D.C. Council member David Catania (I) has promised to introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the District later this year.

Pastors speak out against Same Sex Marriage

Marion Barry speaks at Rally

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