WASHINGTON, D.C., January 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from pro-family leaders who lost their bid to get an initiative on the ballot that would have allowed voters in the District of Columbia protect the traditional definition of marriage.

The high court on Tuesday rejected without comment the appeal that was filed by Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church and others in their lawsuit against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE).

Jackson and the Stand4MarriageDC coalition were represented by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian public interest firm.

“In America, we respect the right to vote.  That right is explicitly protected by the D.C. Charter, but the government has succeeded for now in suppressing the voice of D.C. citizens,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. 

Supreme Court justices were in conference Friday to discuss Jackson’s appeal. In order for the appeal to be heard at least four justices would have had to opt to hear the case. 

The BOEE has ruled repeatedly that the Stand4MarriageDC coalition could not attempt to overturn the same-sex “marriage” law enacted by the DC Council, because doing so would constitute “discrimination” on the basis of sexual orientation – a violation of the DC Human Rights Act (HRA) of 1977.

Jackson and pro-family leaders were challenging the Council’s December 15 decision to pass a bill by 11-2 that redefined marriage in law to include couples of the same sex. The law went into effect on March 3, 2010.

Both the DC Superior Court and the DC Court of Appeals upheld the BOEE ruling, which Jackson and Stand4MarriageDC vowed to appeal, saying it violated their civil right to vote on a matter of fundamental importance to society.

Nimocks said the ADF had hoped that the high court would have sided with the opinion of the four dissenting judges on the appeals court, who said the DC Council was out of line using the Human Rights Act to stifle a ballot initiative on marriage.

“We had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would restore this guaranteed right in the district,” continued Nimocks. “The four dissenting judges in the D.C. Court of Appeals decision were correct that the D.C. Council ‘exceeded its authority’ when it imposed an unwarranted limitation on the citizens’ right to vote.”

He added that ADF would continue “looking for other legal opportunities to protect and defend the right of all D.C. residents to have their voices heard as the D.C. Charter clearly intended.”