DC city council member David Catania introduces bill that would grant same-sex couples the right to marry.
District of Columbia City Council member David Catania introduced a bill on October 6 that would give same-sex couples the right to marry in the district.
The move builds quickly on the milestone achieved in April, when council members voted unanimously to recognize same-sex couples’ marriages performed outside the capital. Progress in D.C. also reflects the momentum for marriage equality around the country following Lambda Legal’s historic legal victory in Iowa in April and recent legislative victories in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
With ten sponsors among D.C.’s 13 council members, Catania’s bill, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” is highly anticipated to pass, and Mayor Adrian Fenty is expected to approve it. “Everyone is entitled to the same rights,” Fenty told DC’s News Channel 8 in April.
It is likely to be a couple of months before the city council gives the bill final approval and the mayor signs it. After that, because the district is not a state, Congress will have 30 session days, about two calendar months, to review the decision.
Although some members of Congress say they want to block D.C.’s marriage equality bill, “the bar is high,” says Susan Mottet, committee counsel for Catania. Within a very short time frame, the House and the Senate would have to pass a joint resolution rejecting the bill, and get the president’s signature. If President Obama were to veto such a resolution, they would have to muster enough votes to override him, something deemed unlikely by Congress watchers.
”Although opposition by some in the House already has been announced, I believe Congress will and should defeat opposition to gay marriage rights in the District of Columbia,” says Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is the district’s (non-voting) representative in Congress.
Norton’s prediction reflects a friendlier climate for lesbian and gay equality in the capital, the fact that Congress allowed D.C.’s marriage-recognition bill to stand this past June and that in the past 25 years, Congress has rejected only three bills approved by the district.