June 15, 2009
DC rejects referendum on recognition of same-sex marriages
The DC Board of Elections and Ethics ruled today that it will not allow a voter referendum reconsidering DC's stance on same-sex marriages.
As the Board's 12 page opinion (available as download here) explained, the referendum seeks to suspend section 3(b) of Act 18-0070, the “Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009,” (“the Act”), which recognizes same-sex marriages validly entered into in another jurisdiction, until this provision has been presented to the registered qualified electors of the District of Columbia for their approval or rejection.
The Board gives this history of the Act:
The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics explained that it may not accept a referendum measure under several circumstances, including if the "measure authorizes, or would have the effect of authorizing,
discrimination prohibited under Chapter 14 of Title 2" which contains the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, HRA, D.C. Official Code § 2-1401.01 et seq. (2006 Repl.).
The Board concluded that the
Opinion at 11.
Thus, the DC Board of Elections and Ethics reaches a very different conclusion than the California Supreme Court in its ruling on the constitutionality of that state's Proposition 8, last discussed here, which was certified by the California Secretary of State. The DC Board is not basing its rationale on constitutional principles; however, the Board's ruling does implicate the balance between equality principles and direct democracy in the form of a voter referendum.
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