by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Enraged citizens stormed the halls of Washington D.C.’s City Hall yesterday after the Council pushed through a measure to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere without hearings or giving constituents an opportunity to have their voices heard on the issue.
According to a report in the Washington Post, after the 12 to 1 vote, a large group of African-American ministers stormed the hallway outside council chambers and promised to work to oust every member who supported the bill. The ministers caused such an uproar security officers and D.C. police were called in to restore order.
Marion Barry, the only council member to vote against the measure, warned that the District could erupt if the council doesn’t “slow down” on the same-sex marriage issue.
“All hell is going to break lose,” Barry said. “We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”
“We need a new council. They are destroying our youth,” a same-sex marriage opponent, Paul Trantham of Southeast Washington, shouted in the hallway during the ruckus. “Every minister who fears God should be here. This is disrespectful to the nation’s capital. There is nothing equal about same-sex marriage.”
The Archdiocese of Washington, DC also weighed in on the matter, expressing “grave concern” over the matter. “This vote shows a lack of understanding of the true meaning of marriage,” they said in a written statement.
“Furthermore, considering the importance of this issue for families throughout the city, the archdiocese is dismayed that the Council chose to push this measure through as an amendment without hearings or giving their constituents the opportunity to voice their concerns to their elected officials.”
In spite of the ruckus, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) says he’ll sign the measure, which means it will go to Congress which, under the Home Rule Charter, has 30 days to review it. This will give the Democratically controlled Congress their biggest test on the same-sex marriage issue since Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996.
President Barack Obama has already stated publicly that he thinks DOMA should be overturned.
At least one GOP member said yesterday that he will try to block the bill from becoming law.
“Some things are worth fighting for, and this is one of them,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), the ranking Republican on a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the District. “It’s not something I can let go softly into the night. . . . I recognize the Democrats are in the majority, but I represent the majority of Americans on this issue.”
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