D.C. Elections Board Blocks Voter Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics blocked a referendum that would have put the D.C. Council's recent decision to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in front of voters:

Washingtondc "Unless a court intervenes, same-sex couples who marry in other states or countries will be considered legally married in the District as well in less than a month. And by the end of the year, the D.C. Council is expected to approve a bill to allow same-sex couples to be married in the city. The opinion states that city officials would "authorize discrimination" if they were to permit a referendum on whether to afford same-sex couples married elsewhere the same rights as opposite-sex couples. The two-member board cited District elections law, which prohibits a vote on a matter covered by the Human Rights Act. The 1977 act outlaws discrimination against gays and lesbians and other minority groups."

 Said Bishop Harry Jackson, who was spearheading the referendum:

Jackson"The real human rights issue at stake in this decision is whether the people of D.C. will be given their right to vote. We are not going to sit still for allowing an unelected board of bureaucrats to deny voters their rightful say on this issue and, by their action, allow the institution of marriage to be radically redefined."

It appears that the ruling paves the way for a marriage equality initiative within the district itself:

"Yesterday's ruling will probably embolden the D.C. Council to take up a separate proposal this year to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District. David A. Catania (I-At Large) said he plans to introduce the legislation in the fall. Board officials note that yesterday's ruling applies only to the question of whether a vote can be held on the bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. But the opinion by Errol R. Arthur, chairman of the board, and member Charles R. Lowery Jr., strongly suggests that the board would be skeptical of any initiative that would deny gays and lesbians any rights that straight people have."

FOX5 DC reports on the decision, AFTER THE JUMP...