Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, introduced a measure Tuesday aimed at banning the District from issuing same-sex marriage licenses until a referrendum can be held on the issue.
Last week, Freshman lawmaker, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced a similar resolution in the House designed to reverse the D.C. City Council ruling to permit gay marriage in the nation’s capital.
Bennett’s version of the bill was co-sponsored by eight other Senate Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, also of Utah.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have tried several legal avenues to block the law. But the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics has rejected the putting the issue on the ballot because it would violate District human rights law, and last month a judge upheld its decision.
“The board’s decision to deny the people of Washington, D.C., a vote was incorrect and reminiscent of the judicial activism that has imposed gay marriage by fiat and stimulated such discord in other venues,” Bennett said. “Congress should act to ensure that the question is settled by a democratic ballot initiative process.”
Because the capital city is a federal district, Congress has final say over its laws. Under Home Rule, there is a 30-day congressional review period.
If Congress decides to intervene, both the House and Senate chambers would need to take action against the gay marriage bill, and a joint resolution would need to be signed by President Obama in order to nullify the measure.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously said that House Democratic leaders favor allowing D.C. to pass its own laws without congressional interference, and last week Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) signaled that the House will not even vote on Chaffetz’s resolution, calling the gay marriage bill “a home rule and human rights issue for the District alone to decide.”
Without a joint resolution from Congress, the law could go into effect next month.
The Council approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriages on Dec. 12, and Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill three days later. If Congress doesn’t act to stop it, city officials have said they expect gay marriage to take place in the District beginning March 2.