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Same-sex marriage in District narrowly upheld by D.C. Court of Appeals
Austin Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which has been battling gay unions, said: "The decision from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals today means that those living in our nation's capital are being denied their most fundamental freedom -- the right to vote. We are considering our options to right this wrong, which include asking the Supreme Court of the United States to consider this case."
The four judges who sided with Jackson's attorneys said they primarily questioned the board's interpretation of the law that allowed them to reject the referendum and specifically indicated that they were not ruling against same-sex marriage.
The court's chief judge, Eric. T. Washington, was joined by Judges John R. Fisher, who wrote the dissenting opinion, Stephen H. Glickman and Kathryn A. Oberly. The dissenters said they questioned whether the board was within its guidelines in rejecting Jackson's initiative and whether they correctly interpreted D.C. law in making their decision.
But they agreed that Jackson's initiative would have led to discrimination prohibited by the District's Human Rights Act. "Non-discrimination, tolerance, acceptance and inclusion are all fundamental values to be fostered in a pluralistic society," their opinion said. "But these aspirations are best achieved through a system of laws, and it is vital that the institutions of the District government observe the limits placed upon them" by District laws.
Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he was "very pleased" with the court's ruling and noted that all nine of the judges ruled -- despite what Jackson and his attorneys argued -- that the referendum would have been discriminatory.
Staff writer Tim Craig contributed to this report.