Pelosi: House Won’t Intervene on D.C. Council Same-Sex Marriage

Pelosi House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that Congress, which has 30 days to review District legislation and has the ability to block it, won't be touching this week's decision by the D.C. Council to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, HRC reports: “I don’t think the Congress should intervene there in terms of their recognition of marriages in the states that allow them."

Pelosi also said there was movement in the House on a variety of LGBT issues, but that pressing for the repeal of DOMA wasn't one of them.


  1. says

    DOMA has got to go… WTF is Pelosi thinking? We have total Democratic hegemony and yet they are playing games with gay rights. Even when we attain same-sex marriage in New England, it’s STILL NOT EQUAL until DOMA bites the dust.

    Repeal DOMA now!!!

  2. Rafael says

    How is that for a demonstration of power? I think her statement on DOMA is code-word for press your senators and representatives. Technically there is no reason not to repeal DOMA, it is not like it is going to cost them politically, it is not like they have to respond to the religious right! They have to respond to us.

  3. StatUnitense says

    I agree with Rafael. Pelosi is just stating that there’s no “movement” in Congress to repeal DOMA because that’s how it is at this moment and, as Rafael said it above, WE the voters need to start pressing our elected officials in both chambers of Congress to repeal it a.s.a.p. Then there’ll be movement on DOMA and plenty of it at that. But it’s gotta have to come from us, the interested folks because, as everyone knows well, politicians won’t touch a topic unless their constituents press them to death about it. Only when they think that their political future (read “re-election hopes”) are threatened then, and only then, they start fighting for what’s right and will make it urgent.

    So, let’s start flooding Congress with phone calls, faxes and e-mails. Time to stop the bitchin’ and start the callin’ and e-mailing’ to see DOMA repeal in the near future.

  4. Dan says

    We got the message re: Prop 8 a little too late, so let’s do our homework and lean forward on DOMA. This is a cruel piece of legislation that carves out explicit federal discrimination against homosexuals — it keeps foreign partners separated, it denies gay couples the benefits they deserve, and renews and reinvigorates the hatred we are trying to dispel at the federal level.

    Fact is, DOMA can be repealed. It’s that simple. If we make it an issue, if we bang our fists on our representatives’ tables and march and shout, we will make change happen. Let’s get with the program here … people’s lives are at stake.

  5. BP says

    I’m all for the people being the catalyst for change, but Pelosi represents the largest (or pretty damn close) per capita of LGBT constituents and she hasn’t done a thing while Speaker. As Speaker she she has a lot of influence and continues to spit out rhetoric.

    She’s caught up in national politics and has forgotten the people that got her there in the first place.

  6. StatUnitense says

    I’m with you, Dan. Let’s get the outrage we all felt right after Prop H8 passed in California last November and bang our fists on our representatives’ tables, march and shout, as you say.
    Now is the time, people. If we don’t take advantage of the momentum building right now, we’ll have only ourselves to blame later when the chance is no longer there (read: when we will, unfortunately, lose the White House and both chambers of Congress to the republicans because, let’s face it, the dems as much as we love ’em, won’t have the power forever).

    The time to act and make our voices heard is now. And this time we can actually be heard and make a difference.

  7. James C. says

    Give Pelosi a little credit. She and the House have actually passed a large part of the legislation they promised since 2006. it just happened to get bottled up in either the Senate or axed by Bush’s veto pen. Pelosi is (I think) rightly using a little political calculus to push through LGBT bills in increments. Keep in mind that just because the House has a huge lead in Dems does not ensure uniform voting. A lot of those Dems are conservative Blue Dogs from the South and Midwest. Many have been elected in formerly Republican conservative districts in the last two cycles and are still worried about keeping their constituents happy as well as the party along with holding their seats. I don’t like it, but it’s the team we’ve got right now. Better them than the Party of NO.

    As a DC resident, I know how hard it is to get LGBT bills passed and enacted at the local level. The DC Council is as left wing as they come, but Congress has oversight over all local legislation here, so they can and have blocked plenty of progressive bills over the years. Not only when the R’s were in power, but the Dems of the 70’s and 80’s too.

    We learned our lesson and have for the last 15 years or so, been passing things piecemeal to create a laundry list of rights to build momentum. Gradually resistance faded away, so bolder action like this bill can pass Congressional muster more easily. This really is a test vote at two levels. If Congress truly does let this local bill sail through, then chances are they will do the same for a full DC marriage bill. If the Blue Dog Dems hold their fire, which is really Pelosi’s goal on almost every big piece of legislation these next 2 years, then she can move forward. If that happens, Pelosi will have two pieces of persuasive evidence to convince her caucus to take action on DOMA along with all the action going on in the states and federal courts. Just because she calls up the bill for a vote does not mean it will pass. She needs some level of consensus first.

    Still, remember that even if that happens, Pelosi and the House are only one quarter of the battle. The bill would still have to pass the Senate where there are still about 7-8 moderate to conservative Dems who run for the hill on stuff like this. They’re trying to do it now on health care and EFCA. Even if that succeeds and Obama signs the bill, I guarantee a Supreme Court challenge before this is settled. So while we’ve made tremendous progress the last few months, there’s still a long way to go and at least a few more years before this is over.

  8. sugarrhill says

    I honestly don’t get what world some of you live in sometimes. Obama barely got Sebelius confirmed during a swine flu scare you think the Dems have enough political capital to end DOMA before they even deal with the economy or universal healthcare, which has been downgraded to affordable healthcare? Am I the only one on this site that realizes this new Dem hemogeny is not even six months old yet and there is a midtern election in a year and a half that could change the current status quo? You people do realize that the party in power almost always loses seats in midterm elections, right? I trust most pro-equality legislation will be done within the next four to eight years, but I prefer it be done right than rushed. DOMA and DADT won’t disappear with just an executive signature. And repealing them in the House will be easier than in the Senate where even with a close to filibuster proof majority is not a done deal.

  9. CJ says

    James C. and Sugarrhill, very well written, calm and effective posts. I wish more individuals would take the time in writing such well versed and intelligent posts. Kudos. :)

  10. Andrew says

    Sugarhill, if you look ahead to the races, the 2010 Senate races will be another GOP slaughter and we’ve already got awesome recruits on the House side. We may lose a couple at most in the House but in the Senate, where the votes are needed, we are looking easily at +4.

    The Democrats are just being cautious so that they dont f it up and give control back right away, but the GOP wont have Congress decades.

  11. Dan says

    Wow, Sugarhill, I’m amazed at you. The Democrats are the strongest they could possibly be, and the Republicans are on the run, in disarray, struggling to use an out-of-date playbook. And yet, you ask us to WAIT. For what? When the Dems have 75% of the Senate and House? We’re always 2 years away from another House election. A terrorist attack could happen at any moment and totally F everything up. Come on.

    Can’t you understand that the old way of thinking has gone out the window? The GOP is freaking out that they are on the wrong side of the gay issue. We must take the battle to them — gay rights are a winning issue in Dem circles. And we don’t have much time. Every president gets dragged down by endless BS as their term goes on, and Obama — who holds a bigoted position on same-sex marriage, my friends — may give in to expediency. I’m simply not going to tolerate another eight years of being told to wait and play nice. We saw where they got us under Clinton!

    Keep up the pressure! And don’t listen to the idiots at the HRC; what progress did those highly paid twits get us when it mattered?

  12. James C says

    While I agree with Andrew that the chances of the GOP regaining total control of Congress are pretty low at this point, remember that it’s not just about control by one party or another. Once any party takes power, it’s internal factions start vying for placement in the pecking order (like we are here). Everybody feels their issues are most important and have had to wait their turn for too long.

    Hell, EFCA (in various incarnations) has been on the short list for labor unions for 32 years. It should have passed in ’77 when the Dems had big majorities, but regional differences won out in the Senate and it failed in that chamber by ONE vote. Orrin Hatch still crows about it. The Dems and Labor were sure they had the votes locked up but they miscalculated and got too confident.

    So that’s the chamber I’m focused on. Build up the margins on our issues to create a voting cushion against defections by Blue Dogs. Anyone on here who lives in Arkansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, or Louisiana should get on the horn now and pressure your Blue Dog Dem senators to vote our way. They are the targets to keep an eye on and they like to see proof that their votes won’t hurt them and have popular support. They are less ideologically pure than we would like, so they need persuasion and sometimes a strong push. Also, any senators from states that just enacted gay marriage, especially Republicans like Snowe and Collins. Challenge them to vote in line with their now current state laws.

    I’m not saying the Dems should not act boldly. I’m just pointing out the difference between boldness and cockiness. What they do have on their side is time. The 2010 census is coming up and that will allow for more advantageous congressional redistricting, which I thing Andrew was alluding to. Combined with already large margins, the playing field for Dems could be further expanded if demographic trends continue.

  13. Barry says

    Well, whether you support it or not, EFCA is very left-wing and takes a way a fundamental American principle of the secret ballot in the workplace, so it’s no surprise it has been stalled for decades. That will provoke a much bigger fight in Congress from both the GOP and Dems, and is the last thing our economy needs right now.

    Gay rights legislation is not even in the same category.

  14. rick says

    James C, thank you for your analysis. I wish more towleroad readers would back up their statements with solid arguments instead of passionate rhetoric.

  15. John in CA says

    Credit where credit is due. Pelosi did a good job of dousing water on the Republicans’ same-sex marriage fire. The GOP was really itching for a fight on this. Her comments have pretty much shut them up. And she did it in a way that didn’t alienate the Blue Dogs and Middle America (without explicitly closing the door to anything in the future).

    The simple fact is, if she wanted to, Pelosi certainly could’ve made this victory in DC very short-lived. Since the rules of the House allow the Speaker to essential do whatever he or she wants with regards to legislative proposals, this decision will stop any momentum for a repeal dead cold.

    Senators are free agents. Representatives are not.

  16. Asher says

    Some of you clearly don’t have your eye on the prize. This should be the game plan:

    1. Leave DOMA alone. Fighting it is a waste of valuable resources, and its repeal does NOTHING for us other than assuage our poor, hurt feelings a little.
    2. Stop pumping money into Marriage Equality, especially here in California. The timing is against us, and besides, there are already enough states with marriage equality in place to ventually press the issue to the Supreme Court.
    3. Focus on 2 Federal issues: Immigration reform and Tax reform. If they’re not parceled with ‘marriage’, they are attainable sooner than many of you realize.
    4. Lobby hard for appointment of a pro-gay Supreme Court justice to replace Souter.
    5. Hope that at least one of the terrible four (Scalia, Roberts, Alito or Thomas) dies or retires in the next 4-8 years.

    I could care less whether I can ‘marry’ my partner as long as it yields no tax benefits, and doesn’t allow my friends with non-American partners to bring them into the US. I am so effing tired of sniveling faggots who want to call themselves ‘married’ but don’t realize that they’ve gained next to nothing.

    When the Supreme Court is slightly more left leaning, marriage equality will make it’s way for review. We don’t want that to happen now, as the current bench would either refuse the case, or deny federal marriage equality. Patience is essential. When the right case gets to the Supreme Court, DOMA will be invalidated, and marriage equality will be the law of the land, but it may take 5-6 years.

    In the meantime, give me a ‘Domestic Partnership’ or ‘Civil Union’ with REAL federal benefits over a silly and hollow label any day.

  17. Billy says

    While Asher is a bit harsh in his wording, the general message is right. Historically, these things happen incrementally. That’s one of the downfalls of bicamoral legislature. James C. and sugarhill also make well-reasoned and historically sensitive arguments.

    Honestly, give it a bit of time. Wait for the voting blocks to shift to the next generation, where people really are more open minded. I think the best we can hope for in Obama’s first term is the Hate Crimes bill and the repeat of DADT. To be disappointed if we don’t get more would be ridiculous.

  18. Donald says

    Whoa now kids, let’s not rush into anything. Let’s wait until the next generation, or maybe even the one after that before we start pressing our luck. We’ve got a President that sort of smiled at us when he was trying to get elected, isn’t that enough for now?

  19. Mr. E says

    Tho, I’m usually VERY impatient I agree that waiting on DOMA is ok. We NEED to get the hate crimes bill passed! As well as the ALL INCLUSIVE ENDA. Marriage equality would never have helped Matthew Shepard or Gwen Arajo. We need to focus on keeping our brothers and sisters ALIVE and EMPLOYED so they can vote! Even if DOMA was repealed it would still not give marriage equality full federal recognition, which is necessary for what was said above; immigration and taxes. If you all are itching for a fight, fight for what really matters to ALL of us (hate crimes, ENDA), not just the handful who want to join in on the failed institution of marriage…

  20. mike says

    DOMA will be repealed or at least be considered for repeal as soon as we can get more state victories in our battle for marriage equality and civil rights. Once it is clear that a majority of states back marriage equality then DOMA as a national law or policy will cease to have any validity at all. I still don’t like Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid and I think those two are the WORST “leaders” we could have as we approach a possible Democratic majority in the Senate and fight to maintain the majority in the House.

  21. Rafael says

    While I respect challenging points of view. The “fierce urgency of now” is critical to the advancement of our cause. DOMA needs to be repealed not because it will make us feel better, but because DOMA undermines any other efforts in the fight for equality.

    I’m a believer in perseverance, and I think all demonstrations of equality count. For I’m as thankful to stonewall drag queens as much as I’m to Milk and to those who continue to raise their voices each and every day.

  22. Asher says

    Donald, don’t be so melodramatic. No one said anything about waiting two generations. My point was that we need attainable goals and strategies for achieving them.

    Oh yeah, and we need leaders, too.

  23. RitchieLA says

    You must be kidding with some of these comments about waiting another generation?
    Why the hell do LGBT people pay the same taxes without equal right or representation. It’s simply bullshit. End of story. Every group has had it’s battles in our history. LGBT people need to get a damn backbone and stop worrying about appearing threatening to the mainstream. WE ARE THE MAINSTREAM – we pay the same taxes, share the same government debt, and are yet obliged to be considered less than equal. Bullshit.

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