Bill to Define Marriage in DC Introduced in House

WASHINGTON -- A Republican-led group of lawmakers wants to define marriage in the District of Columbia as between a man and a woman.

The group introduced a bill in the House on Thursday, hoping to thwart a D.C. Council vote this month recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Five states -- Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont -- allow gay marriage.

Congress, which has final say over laws in the nation's capital, has until July to act against the District's measure. Otherwise, it automatically becomes law. Some council members have said the legislation is the first step toward eventually allowing gay marriage in Washington.

More than 30 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of the House bill, said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. However, all but two are Republicans, and it will be a fight to get the bill approved in a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

Obama publicly supports civil unions and believes states should be allowed to make their own decisions about marriage.

The gay marriage debate in D.C. has garnered national attention not only because it could force Congress to weigh in, but because Washington is the first place in the U.S. with a large percentage of black residents to take up the issue.

The most vocal criticism has come from some black ministers, who say what happens in D.C. could determine the fate of marriage across the country.

"We are calling on members of Congress to reinforce and strengthen traditional marriage in this city and in this nation," said Harry Jackson, a black bishop who lives in Washington and leads a church in Beltsville, Md.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and woman for the purpose of federal laws.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us