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Posted at 11:11 AM ET, 05/05/2009

D.C. Council Votes 12-1 to Recognize Other States' Gay Marriages

UPDATE 2: After further debate, a second vote was taken, with D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) deciding to vote against the proposal. The final count is 12-1 in favor of recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Read the full story.

UPDATE: D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) has now asked that the gay marriage bill be reconsidered. He didn't realize what he was voting on before.

(Clarification: During an interview after the vote, Barry said it was inaccurate to say above that he didn't know what he was voting on. He said he walked away during the vote. But Council records indicate he was present because the vote was recorded 13-0).

He just gave a speech saying he is going to vote against it so it won't be unanimous vote. The council is now debating the bill.

Original post:

Washington Post reporter Tim Craig relays that the D.C. Council has voted 13-0, without debate, to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Watch D.C. Wire for updates.

The approved law was added as an amendment to another bill, and can be seen on the second page of that bill's text (.pdf).

If Congress does not intervene, council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) has said that he will introduce a separate bill this year to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.

The positioning comes amid uncertainty about whether the same-sex marriage question could eventually land before District voters.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last month found that 49 percent of voters nationwide support the legalization of same-sex marriage. But among African Americans, 51 percent opposed legalizing same-sex marriage and 42 percent supported it. According to the census, 55 percent of District residents are African American.

Attorney Mark Levine said his analysis of District law found that the same-sex marriage question cannot be put before voters. He noted that local election law forbids a vote on a matter that violates the District's Human Rights Act. The act states that the government cannot "limit or refuse to provide any facility, service, program, or benefit" to any individual on the basis of sexual orientation.

"It seems pretty clear to me," Levine said.

But others are warning advocates that they need to prepare for the possibility of voter involvement at some point.

"I don't think it works for us to try to artificially try to put it in the Human Rights Act," said council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), a supporter of gay marriage. "I have told the GLBT community that they have to make sure there is the public support for this. . . . If there is not, we can try all the maneuvering we want and still be in trouble."

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  11:11 AM ET, 05/05/2009

Categories:  D.C. Council, D.C. Council

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