Clearly buoyed by Tuesday's decision by the California Supreme Court to let stand the voter-approved initiative that banned same-sex marriage, the publicity-hungry gay-bashing Bishop Harry Jackson and a group of local ministers filed papers requesting a voter referendum to overturn the new Washington D.C. law that recognizes legal same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, reports the Washington Post.
In paperwork filed with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, the group Stand 4 Marriage D.C. said it wants to begin the process of collecting about 21,000 signatures needed to overturn the bill that the D.C. Council overwhelmingly approved this month recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. That bill is tentatively scheduled to take effect in July.
The referendum effort is a preemptive strike designed to slow plans by several council members to take up a separate bill this year to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.
"It's a declaration of war," said Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, a vocal critic of same-sex marriage and a leader of the referendum effort. "We are sending a clear message this is going to be fought every step of the way."
Jackson has allied with other ministers from the Washington region. The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement yesterday reiterating its opposition to same-sex marriage but withheld support for the proposed referendum until church officials could review it.
Marriage equality opponents in the District will face a much greater hurdle to get the issue on the ballot than opponents did in California. The Washington Blade reports: "The law prohibits referenda aimed at changing tax laws, appropriating funds or restricting or repealing the city's Human Rights Act. Some gay activists have argued that a referendum calling for prohibiting same-sex marriage in the District could not be allowed because it would violate the Human Rights Act's ban on sexual orientation discrimination. "
Michael Crawford, the black gay activist, blogger and president of the same-sex marriage advocacy group D.C. For Marriage, says the fight against ,marriage in the District is likely to become even uglier than California. "I think we would see a very divisive campaign along racial lines," Crawford said. "It's up to each of us to work hard to make sure that doesn't happen."
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