The D.C. City Council voted for the first time as a full council in favor of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009. The bill, which will formally legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia while protecting the rights of religious institutions to define marriage according to their own beliefs, will be voted on a final time later this month by the full council. The bill is expected to then be signed by Mayor Fenty and finally go to Capitol Hill for Congressional review before becoming law. Eleven of 13 council members voted in support of the bill.
Aisha Mills, President of the Campaign for All D.C. Families released the following statement:
"Today we celebrate the District of Columbia City Council's initial vote to extend marriage equality to all residents. When passed this important law will provide gay and lesbian couples the securities and protections of marriage and create a stronger community for all of us.
"Denying marriage protections to loving and committed couples here in the district, and elsewhere, puts them and their families in harm's way. I would to thank the Council and all of the advocates for their work on this first step toward ensuring that gay and lesbian couples are able to make a lifelong commitment to take care of and be responsible for one another."
As with any D.C. legislation, the U.S. Congress has the right to repeal the bill if enough senators and representatives get fired up against it. However, no such firing up occurred this summer when the D.C. council voted to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.