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May 8, 2009

D.C. marriage recognition may be an issue in Congress

Washington, D.C.--A measure to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other locations passed the D.C. Council on May 5, with only one dissenting vote.

The ordinance now goes to Mayor Arian M. Fenty, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage.

If Barry signs it, the next stop could be Congress, which has 30 days to review all D.C. legislation.

The first vote was unanimous. Former mayor Marion Barry, however, seemed to not realize what the vote was for, and moments later put forward a motion to reconsider the vote, then voted against it.

According to the Washington Post, Barry said that he is a longtime supporter of equal rights for LGBT people, but that he was standing with the �ministers who stand on the moral compass of God.�

Many of those ministers were in the council chamber, with followers who yelled loudly at the council after the vote.

�It has been a very agonizing and difficult decision,� Barry continued. �I feel comfortable with this position because I know where my heart is. I am representing my constituents. I have thought about it a lot and I have been a friend of [the gay] community and will continue to be a friend of this community.�

Barry�s vote created conflict with David Catania, one of his two openly gay colleagues on the council.

Catania argued that the issue was simple equality.

�The issue is whether or not our colleagues on a personal level view me and Jim Graham as your equals,� Catania noted. �If we are permitted the same rights and responsibilities and obligations as our colleagues. So this is personal. This is acknowledging our families as much as we acknowledge yours.�

After saying that he understood how personal the issue was for Catania and Graham, the other gay councilor, Barry said that he understands discrimination.

However, �I resent the implication that because you are not here on this particular issue, that you are not being treated equally . . . I resent Mr. Catania saying either you are a bigot or against bigotry as though this particular legislation represents all of that.�

Catania said he does not think Barry is a bigot, �but your position is bigoted. It is hard for me, as a friend, for you to vote against a status that you can enjoy, that I cannot.�

While Fenty is expected to sign the bill, that is not the end of its journey. All District of Columbia legislation is subject to final approval from Congress.

If Congress does nothing with it during the 30-day review period, it will go on the books, as happens with most District legislation.

However, anti-gay activists have promised to take their fight to Capitol Hill, although the current make-up of Congress makes their success less certain than in previous years.




This material is copyrighted by the Gay People�s Chronicle. Permission is given only to repost the headline, byline, and one or two paragraphs, with the full name of the Gay People�s Chronicle and a link to the full article on our website. Reproduction of the entire article is prohibited without specific written permission.



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