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D.C. Board: No Right To Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

11.19.09

From California to Iowa to Arkansas to New Hampshire, the debate over the legalization of same-sex marriage has crossed the country.  Recently, Washington, D.C. passed a bill recognizing the union of same-sex couples married legally in one of the handful of states where it’s allowed.

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics put a stop to a ballot initiative that would’ve put the matter up to a vote, effectively clearing the way for the bill to be signed into law.  However, Bishop Harry Jackson sued in an effort to reverse the decision by the Board.

Let’s take a look at this current debate, shall we?

The Board’s reasoning:

The board ruled Tuesday that the proposed initiative on whether to define marriage as being between a man and a woman violates the city’s Human Rights Act because it would be discriminatory toward gay men and lesbians.

The opposition:

“The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, the conservative legal group representing Jackson. “The D.C. Charter guarantees the people the right to vote, and the council cannot amend the charter for any reason, much less to deny citizens the right to vote.”

Without knowing the law I’m not really the best person to weigh in on this topic, and I’m clearly biased in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.  Perhaps there’s something to look at in a government entity denying the right to vote to the people, but the Board is an elected group, so they’re representing the people.  Also, there is this:

[D.C] city code prohibits a public vote on a matter protected under the Human Rights Act.

Which makes perfect sense.  I don’t know where people got this sense of entitlement that made them think that they have the right to vote on the definition of marriage.  We live in a republic, not a true democracy; people don’t get to vote on every single issue.  Most importantly, no one should have the right to vote to deny a specifically targeted group of citizens rights that others have.

Here’s hoping Jackson’s lawsuit gets dismissed by the Supreme Court, that D.C. passes this bill into law, and that legally married same-sex couples from across the country will at least be recognized in our nation’s capital.

It’ll be another step closer to equality.

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