Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Washington, DC
Out-of-state SSMs recognized in DC.
Bill not vetoed by Congress:
Mayor Fenty authorized the District of Columbia City Council's "JAMA" bill to recognize legal SSMs performed outside the District.
The measure then went to
the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee in Congress for a legislative
review. The subcommittee has the power to vote on and veto the resolution. It would
have been an interesting
sight to see Congress debating and voting directly on same-sex marriage, even if
it only applied to the residents of the District of Columbia.
Congress had 30 days to either veto the resolution or allow it to automatically take effect
as it was passed by the Council. 1
Representative Jason Cahffetx (R-UT) has stated that he would attempt to have
the resolution vetoed. He is the ranking Republican in the subcommittee that reviews
District of Columbia's laws. He
said: "Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them."
However, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Speaker of the House, said that there would be
no vote to overturn the city council's resolution. She said: "I don't think the
Congress should intervene there in terms of their recognition of marriages in
the states that allow them." 2
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) has introduced bill HR 2608 which would veto the city
council's decision. He said: "
"We don't think it's appropriate for the council in our nation's capital to
redefine the institution that is the cornerstone of families. ... Every time
this issue has gone to the people the people have said marriage should be what
marriage has always been." 3
The general consensus of civil liberties groups,
liberal and progressive faith groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transsexual (LGBT) organizations is that marriage is a fundamental right for
loving committed couples, and that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry
is discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.
Valid out-of-state same-sex marriages recognized:
The 30-day review period expired without Congress
taking any action. As a result, all legal out-of-state marriages became
recognized in DC, whether by same-sex or opposite-sex couples at midnight on
the morning of 2009-JUL-07. As usual, same-sex couples obtained the district's
benefits that had previously been restricted to opposite-sex married couples.
However, the approximately 1,050 federal benefits
given automatically to opposite-sex married couples continue to be denied same-sex couples
because of the federal DOMA law.
Also, for the first time, same-sex married couples
who have resided in DC can now obtain a divorce there. Previously, they had to leave
the state to get a divorce.
The Washington Times reported:
"The law will affect everything from tax filing,
employer health care benefits, inheritance and hospital visitation rights to
mundane activities, such as gym memberships and car rentals. ..."
"The D.C. Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs is working
to release tip sheets and fact sheets. D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles has requested that all government agencies review their policies so
that implementation can proceed as smoothly and timely as possible, a
spokeswoman for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said." 5
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Abby Goodnough & Katie Zezima, "Gay Marriage Advances in Maine," The New
York Times, 2009-MAY-05, at:
"D.C. council votes for same-sex marriages," Baptist Press, 2009-MAY-07,
"Federal Legislation Introduced to Protect Marriage in D.C.," CitizenLink,
Jennifer Vanasco, "Out-of-state gay marriages now recognized in D.C.,"
365gay.com, 2009-JUL-07, at:
Melissa Giaimo, "Married gays see progress in D.C. Law affects taxes,
rights for couples wed elsewhere," Washington Times, 2009-JUL-07, at: