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DC Appeals Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage

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By Jason Beahm on July 15, 2010 12:35 PM

With a 5-4 vote, the D.C. Court of Appeals has upheld same-sex marriage in D.C. The appeal came after a Superior Court judge sided with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, which had rejected an initiative to have the gay marriage issue decided by popular vote rather than the D.C. Council. The council had voted to allow same-sex marriage last December.

Last May, attorneys representing opponents of gay marriage, supported by the group National Organization for Marriage, argued before the D.C. Court of Appeals that the decision of the board had violated the District's Human Rights Act by authorizing same-sex marriage.

The court was asked to resolve the following legal question: did the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics act lawfully when it rejected the proposed initiative on the ground that it would authorize discrimination prohibited by the Human Rights Act?

The court rejected the argument that a popular vote on the matter was allowed or required. Instead, they ruled that the district did in fact act lawfully and upheld their decision. The only step left for a possible appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese hailed the decision as a positive step forward:

The court's ruling today is a significant victory for justice, the rule of law and the protection of all DC residents against discrimination. It's time for the National Organization for Marriage to realize equality is here to stay no matter how much money they want to throw at turning back the clock.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, said the 5-4 decision was a "sad day" but that he and his attorneys are "encouraged" by the split vote and planning to take the case to the country's highest court.

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