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Posted at 04:53 PM ET, 02/19/2010

A third D.C. judge rules against same-sex marriage opponents

Another Superior Court judge has denied a request by same-sex marriage opponents to overturn a D.C. Board of Elections rulings against a referendum on the issue.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman means same-sex couples may be able to start getting married in the District in about two weeks.

Earlier today, attorneys for Stand4MarriageDC and the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal organization, appeared in D.C. Superior Court to challenge a previous court ruling upholding the elections board's decision.

The attorneys also asked the court to block the new law from taking effect while their lawsuit proceeds.

Holeman denied the request, according to Brian K. Flowers, the chief counsel to the D.C. Council. Holeman, according to Flowers, also denied a request to permit an immediate appeal to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

That could complicate opponents' efforts to get an appellate court ruling before same-sex couples begin to marry.

Holeman's ruling will not be official until Monday, said Austin Nimocks, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund. Once it is, opponents plan to file an immediate appeal.

"The people have a right to have the final say...The D.C. Charter makes that right clear, and officials should not be ignoring the right of the people to vote for or against the new definition of marriage fabricated by the council," Nimocks said. "We are appealing because the District's marriage redefinition law shouldn't go into effect until voters have the opportunity to vote on a critical matter that affects everyone in the District."

Holeman becomes the third Superior Court judge to rule against same-sex marriage opponents. The elections board says putting the issue on the ballot would violate the city's Human Rights Act, designed to protect gay men and lesbians and other minority groups from discrimination.

In December, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) signed into law the council bill to legalize same-sex marriages. The bill is currently on Capitol Hill, where it is undergoing a 30-day review period.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has filed a formal disapproval resolution, but there has been no indications that the Democratic-controlled House and Senate plan to consider it.

Absent congressional intervention, same-sex couples will be allowed to marry in the District around March 3, according to council staffers and gay rights activists.

Bishop Harry Jackson, a leader in the effort to block the council bill, and other same-sex marriage opponents plan to hold a rally on Wednesday at the Capitol Visitors Center to try to step up the pressure on Congress to intervene.

--Tim Craig

By  |  04:53 PM ET, 02/19/2010

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig

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