Wednesday, April 8, 2009

D.C to Recogize Gay Marriages

D.C to Recogize Gay Marriages
By Michael Neibauer
Examiner Staff Writer 4/8/09

The D.C. Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed that the District should recognize gay marriages performed in other jurisdictions, a likely step toward nation’s capital legalizing same sex marriage.
“A marriage elsewhere is a marriage in the District,” said Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham, who is openly gay. “This is a very important step forward.”

The gay marriage recognition comes as an amendment, offered by at-large Councilman Phil Mendelson, to a bill authorizing the D.C. tax office to release personal information of filers to the U.S. District Court. The council must approve the bill a second time, likely next month; Mayor Adrian Fenty must sign it and then it must survive a 30-day congressional review before becoming law.

“I applaud the D.C. Council for taking this action,” said Peter Rosenstein, a prominent D.C. gay activist. “Gays and lesbians deserve no less than equal rights. I hope that if Congress allows this legislation to go through it will be followed quickly by a gay marriage bill in D.C.”

The amendment was simply a matter of clarifying “that our law will continue to recognize marriages as duly performed in other states,” Mendelson said.

Recognizing marriages from other jurisdictions puts the District “not exactly on the cutting edge, but at the forefront” with the likes of New York and Rhode Island, which have taken similar steps, said Councilman David Catania, who joins Graham as the two open gay council members. Vermont on Tuesday joined the ranks of states that have legalized same sex marriages.

It is widely known that Catania is drafting gay marriage legislation. The question has long been when he would introduce it, not if.

“That march is coming here,” he said.

He added: “I am unwilling to live under the continued confines of a civil union or domestic partnership law.”

The one council member who had not previously committed to support gay marriage or gay marriage recognition, Ward 7’s Yvette Alexander, announced Tuesday that she would get back Mendelson’s amendment.

“My conscience feels good,” Alexander said. “It is the right thing to do.”

Congress, which must review and approve all D.C. bills before they become law, remains the one potential obstacle to legalized gay marriage in the District. The congressional reaction to Mendelson’s same sex marriage recognition amendment might portend the fate of a marriage legalization bill, proponents say.

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