DC council revises bill, expects to approve gay marriage this year

DCD.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) released Monday a revised draft of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation’s capital, removing language that would have phased out city registration of new domestic partnerships, the Washington Blade reports.

Mendelson, who chairs the Council committee that has jurisdiction over the bill, also broadened the bill’s exemption for churches and religious organizations.

As currently drafted, the legislation states that religious officials would have to offer wedding-related services to same-sex couples if those services are available to the public. But the Archdiocese of Washington and other religious organizations oppose that language.

Bowing to pressure, the revised to allow religious organizations to refuse to rent facilities or provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, even though such facilities and services are available to the general public.

The bill’s original version was written by Council member David Catania (I-At Large), who is gay, and was co-introduced by Catania and nine of his colleagues on the 13-member Council.

The revised draft released Monday leaves intact all of the major provisions written by Catania, including the key provision to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District of Columbia.

The council committee is expected to approve the changes Tuesday before sending the legislation to the full council.

The bill is expected to be approved before Christmas.

Full story at the Washington Blade.

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