Wednesday, December 16, 2009

D.C. Passes Marriage Equality

Good news:

The District was on the verge Tuesday of becoming the sixth place in the country to legalize same-sex marriage after the council gave final approval to its bill allowing the unions.

The legislation would allow gay couples from anywhere in the country to marry in the city. Those couples who live in the District would be entitled to all rights afforded to heterosexual married couples under District laws.

Although a final signature on the bill by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) could come by the end of the week, same-sex marriage opponents vowed to step up their effort to get Congress or a court to block the initiative during the 30-day congressional review period.

The 11 to 2 council decision, which caps a nearly year-long debate, set off a wave of excitement across the gay community, both locally and nationally. “In many ways, this is the final prize,” said council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), one of two people on the council who are openly gay.

According to an analysis by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, more than 10,000 same-sex couples from across the country could get married in the District over the next three years if the measure becomes law.

In the quirky feudal way that the District government is set up, Congress could still step in and kill it; it’s kind of like a high school where the principal can stop the student council from passing something he doesn’t like, but it’s still a step forward. And perhaps seeing all those happy couples in Washington might teach Congress that marriage equality isn’t about gay rights; it’s about human rights.