DC elections board rejects referendum effort — for the third time


LGBTQ Nation

Not surprising, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics — for the third time — rejected the latest referendum petition on the issue of same-sex marriage, ruling on Thursday that a ballot measure on the issue will not be allowed.

The board has consistently ruled that such a measure would violate the city’s Human Rights Act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Pursuant to District law, the referendum process may not be used to authorize discrimination prohibited under the HRA.

The board concluded that an effort to suspend the implementation of the Civil Marriage Equality Act until it appears on the ballot is not a proper subject for a referendum. The legislation, which grants full marriage rights to same-sex couples, was passed by the D.C. Council and signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty late last year.

In an 18-page ruling, the board said:

The Civil Marriage Equality Act represents the Council’s effort to eliminate the discriminatory exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. The Referendum seeks to frustrate this effort, and would, if successful, have the effect of authorizing discrimination in contravention of the HRA.

Accordingly, it does not present a proper subject for referendum, and may not be accepted by the Board.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have tried several legal avenues to block the law.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), introduced a measure Tuesday aimed at banning the District from issuing same-sex marriage licenses until a referendum can be held on the issue. A similar measure was introduced in the House last week by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

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.

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