Gay Marriage Gets Thumbs Up in Nation's Capital
Legislative and court victories mount despite losses at ballot box.
Dec. 1, 2009— -- The D.C. Council voted in favor of same-sex marriage on Tuesday, moving Washington, D.C., a big step closer to becoming the first jurisdiction below the Mason-Dixon Line to allow full civil equality for gays and lesbians.
The latest ballot-box defeat for gay marriage came last month when Maine became the 31st state to use a public referendum to block gay and lesbian couples from marrying. The residents of Maine voted to repeal a state statute passed by the legislature and signed by the governor which would have permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Maine's gay-marriage statute had not yet taken effect, awaiting the outcome of the referendum.
The decision on the part of voters in Maine to exercise the "people's veto" amounted to a tough loss for gay marriage advocates who were hoping to score a ballot-box victory after seeing court-mandated gay marriage repealed last year in California by Proposition 8.
While the ballot-box defeats in Maine and California have given conservatives a populist argument against gay marriage, proponents of marriage equality have scored important judicial victories in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa as well as legislative victories in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Although today's D.C. vote is a milestone for gay marriage advocates, there are still several more steps in the process before gay and lesbian couples can start marrying in the nation's capital.
To ensure that the D.C. Council -- a unicameral body -- does not act in haste, its full membership votes on all bills twice before any legislation becomes law.
As a result, the gay-marriage bill will come up for a second vote of the full Council on Dec. 15.
If, as expected, it is approved a second time, it will then go to Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, who supports the legislation, for his signature.
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