News (USA)

DC vote to approve gay marriage expected this week

DC gay marriageThe D.C. City Council drew national attention this week as it made final preparations for the first of two votes on a same-sex marriage bill Tuesday that observers say was expected to pass by a margin as wide as 11 to 2, reports DC Agenda.

Council insiders said there was no surge in phone calls or e-mails to the Council over the past week in response to national media reports about a warning about the bill from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Church officials said they would stop operating city funded social service programs that help as many as 68,000 needy people unless the Council makes changes in the bill allowing the group Catholic Charities to deny same-sex spousal benefits to its employees.

“I hear everybody in the press talking about it, but we haven’t heard anything at all,” said Jason Shedlock, chief of staff to Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who chairs the committee that approved the bill earlier this month.

Meanwhile, opponents of the same-sex marriage bill, led by a Maryland minister, filed suit against the city in D.C. Superior Court to contest a decision two weeks ago by the city’s election board rejecting a proposed voter initiative to ban same-sex marriage in the District.

The election board ruled that the proposed ballot initiative would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Same-sex marriage opponents say they have the funds to appeal the ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court should they lose in Superior Court.

Ten of the council’s 13 members have co-sponsored the bill, and Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat, has said he would sign it after it gains council approval. The district could start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex partners early next year.

Full story at DC Agenda.

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