Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Efforts to prevent D.C.'s marriage-equality law from taking effect tomorrow

"It ain't over till it's over." Embracing its own version of Yogi Berra's insight, the Alliance Defense Fund has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to stay D.C.'s marriage-equality law, which takes effect tomorrow absent Congressional intervention. (Metro Weekly; Washington Post) This appeal arises from the latest of three attempts to reverse D.C.'s recognition of marriage equality. HRC Back Story has also posted the D.C. Attorney General's response brief opposing a stay by the Supreme Court. See my post for details on the prior course of the litigation.

[update: "The Chief Justice, in denying an emergency stay filed by opponents of gay marriage, issued a three-page opinion, found here, explaining his action ... Even while saying a delay was not now legally justified, Roberts noted that the challengers may still try to undo the new D.C. marriage provision by attempting to put it on the ballot asking local voters to repeal the law. That separate maneuver is now under review in the D.C. Court of Appeals, Washington’s highest local court." (SCOTUS Blog. See also Leonard Link) The "separate maneuver" involves the Marriage Initiative of 2009, which the D.C. Elections and Ethics Board disqualified as a violation of the D.C. Human Rights Act. The D.C. Superior Court upheld the Board's decision [Jackson v. District of Columbia Bd. of Elections, Civ. A. No. 2009 CA 008613 B (D. C. Super., Jan. 14, 2010)], and plaintiffs appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Roberts states that with respect to this case, "petitioners will have the right to challenge any adverse decision through a petition for certiorari in this Court at the appropriate time."

AP reports on division among African-Americans over marriage equality in D.C., as Bishop Harry Jackson, a black pastor, has led the opposition. While he is the most outspoken of plaintiffs challenging the new law, plaintiffs include Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a 1960s civil rights leader. According to AP, local, marriage equality supporters have made "references to interracial marriage and Martin Luther King." Although AP overlooks Fauntroy, he told the Washington Post that "[e]very child needs to be bonded to a man and a woman" and that " the survival of the species is at stake."

In December, D.C. evangelical Joyce Little failed in her pro se attempt to prevent the D.C. Council from voting on the marriage equality legislation. (DCist.com) She also tried to propose an initiative to repeal the new law, but, on March 1st,the D.C. Elections and Ethics Board rejected it. (Thanks to a helpful reader for alerting me to the Board's decision.)

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