Two important updates to the Washington D.C.'s new marriage equality legislation, which Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed into law on Friday. First: District of Columbia lawyers filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by same-sex marriage opponents. The plaintiffs, led by gay-bashing crusader Bishop Harry Jackson, sought to place their proposed marriage ban on the ballot. They sued after the Board of Elections and Ethics turned them down. District lawyers maintain a ban would violate the city's Human Rights Act.
In related news: The 30-legislative day congressional review period has begins and the Human Rights Campaign is monitoring developments on Capitol Hill, according to Roll Call (subscription).
It is highly unlikely that a Democratically controlled Congress would pass a stand-alone resolution of disapproval that would overturn the law. However, gay rights groups will still be on the lookout for efforts by conservatives to slip provisions in appropriations bills that could nullify or weaken the marriage law. That action would not have to occur within the 30-day time frame. "Obviously Congress has a long history of attaching anti-gay and other riders to District of Columbia appropriations bills. We are watching closely for these types of riders," said David Stacy, senior public policy advocate at the HRC.
In the past, lawmakers were able to attach riders that barred funding for domestic partner registry in the District. But this month, Congress approved a spending bill that lifted past restrictions on the District, including one that barred a medical marijuana law from taking effect. Opponents of the gay marriage initiative have vowed to turn to Congress and the courts to force a public referendum on the gay marriage measure. Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, said lawmakers were already being contacted about the issue. “Congress has the ability to say, ‘No, we’re not going to move forward,’ either through direct vote or an appropriation rider,” he said. Brown added that the appropriations route is more likely given the fact that lawmakers are tied up on so much other legislation, such as health care.
Jason Chaffetz, the obsessively anti-gay Utah Mormon representative, says he will introduce legislation in January to overturn the marriage measure. Chaffetz may introduce a bill but it will probably never get a hearing. DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has said she has received assurances from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic leadership that DC's marriage equality will not be blocked.