By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 18, 2009 ( – The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics on Tuesday refused to allow the traditional definition of marriage to be put to voters in a ballot initiative, saying that the initiative amounts to “discrimination” against homosexuals.  The board denied the Stand for Marriage DC Coalition's petition the same day the city council scheduled a vote on a same-sex “marriage” bill for December 1. 

The “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” sponsored by nine of the thirteen city council members and supported by mayor Adrian Fenty, is expected to pass easily.  Although Congress technically has the authority to block the council's legislation, few U.S. lawmakers have stepped up against the D.C. bill in defense of traditional marriage.

The elections board justified its refusal to put the marriage question to D.C. citizens because they said it “authorizes discrimination prohibited under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.”  The board gave the same reasoning in June when refusing a number of Christian pastors' ballot initiative challenging the recognition of same-sex “marriages” enacted outside the District.

The proposed initiative, practically identical to California's successful Proposition 8, states: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the District of Columbia.” 

The Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination according to sexual orientation in various respects.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania, who introduced the same-sex “marriage” measure and is openly homosexual, praised the board's decision. “Those who proposed the initiative were attempting to write discrimination into our law, and I am pleased that the board rejected this effort as an impermissible trespass on the human rights of District residents,” said Catania.

Christian Bishop Harry Jackson, the lead sponsor of the initiative, called the “undemocratic” decision by the two-member board “outrageous and a slap in the face of every resident of the District of Columbia.”

“To deny the people their fundamental right to vote on such an important issue as the definition of marriage in our society is simply appalling,” said Jackson, who is the senior pastor at Hope Christian Church.

The Stand For Marriage DC Coalition says it will appeal Tuesday's ruling in D.C. Superior Court, and plans to hold a rally December 8th to lobby Congress to override the council.

“The Home Rule Charter tells us that we should have the same rights as the DC Board of Elections and as the DC City Council,” Jackson contends.  “In other words, if they can vote on something, we can vote on something.  If they can initiate a law, we should be able to initiate a law, as what is done in Maine and California.”

See related coverage:

D.C. Bill Expected to Dismantle Traditional Marriage in Capital by December 

D.C. Ethics Board Rejects Referendum on Homosexual “Marriage” Advocated by Black Pastors 


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