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Posted at 03:36 PM ET, 10/23/2009

Hundreds plan to testify at same-sex marriage hearing

More than 250 people have signed up to testify for or against a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in the District, setting the stage for what may be one of the biggest hearings ever conducted by the D.C. Council.

So many people have signed up to testify that the hearing, scheduled to begin Monday afternoon, it has been extended to a second day.

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At large), chairman of the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee, said the first 100 witnesses will start testifying Monday at 3:30 p.m. The remaining witnesses will be able to testify a week later on Nov. 2.

In all, 269 people asked to testify before Thursday's deadline.

Mendelson said he does not recall there ever being a hearing with so many public witnesses.

The testimony from the witnesses, who get three minutes to present their case, could stretch past midnight on Monday.

The witnesses represent numerous gay rights organizations, the Democratic Party, various churches and religious organizations and some public officials.

But most of the witnesses are members of the public speaking out on their own accord.

In preparation for the hearing, a group of same-sex marriage opponents will be holding a rally Sunday on Freedom Plaza.

The group will be demanding that the Board of Elections and Ethics approve its request for a citywide referendum asking voters to block same-sex marriage in the District. The board will hold also hold its hearing on the request Monday but a decision is not expected until early next month.

By  |  03:36 PM ET, 10/23/2009

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig

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