Two District residents are challenging Bishop Harry Jackson's qualifications to lead the fight against a D.C. Council bill that legalizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Cary Silverman, president of the Mount Vernon Association, and Martin Moulton claim Jackson was ineligible to seek a referendum on the bill because he is a resident of Maryland.
"If I hopped into my car, drove out to Annapolis and tried to rewrite the laws of Maryland, I'd expect them to come down on me like a ton of bricks," said Silverman, who unsuccessfully challenged Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) last year. "This is a matter of principle - we don't want residents of other states interfering with our laws."
The challenge follows a Washington Blade story that raised questions about whether Jackson was a District resident. Jackson registered to vote in the District on April 22, after the Council approved the legislation on first reading. Jackson's District residence is a one-bedroom apartment he shares with someone else.
Jackson also remains registered to vote in Montgomery County, where he owns two homes, according to property records.
In a recent interview, Jackson dismissed questions about his residency, stressing he's a legal resident with a valid drivers license. Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, added hundreds of his parishioners are District residents. Jackson also accused The Blade of endangering his safety by publishing his home address.
Jackson is just one of several same-sex marriage opponents challenging the Council bill. No questions have been raised about whether any of the other opponents reside in the District.
Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics blocked the opponents' efforts to hold a referendum on the bill. But the group, led by Jackson, is currently appealing that decision in Superior Court.
"This referendum should have been kicked out from the get-go," Silverman said. "It should never have seen the light of day."