January 21, 2011

02RNS: Supreme Court Lets D.C. 'Gay Marriage' Ruling Stand

Supreme Court Lets D.C.
'Gay Marriage' Ruling Stand


BY MICHAEL FOUST                                                                                                  ©2011 Baptist Press 

The U.S. Supreme Court handed traditional marriage supporters a disappointing loss Jan. 18, declining to take up a case in which the District of Columbia refused to allow citizens to vote on an initiative defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"Gay marriage" has been legal in the nation's capital since March 2010, and a group of conservative leaders has wanted to gather signatures for an initiative that would define marriage in the traditional sense and overturn the law. But while the city's charter allows voters to gather signatures for initiatives, the D.C. Board of Elections rejected all attempts at an initiative defining marriage, saying it would violate the city's Human Rights Act and "authorize discrimination" against homosexuals. The charter is the city's equivalent to a constitution.

Then-Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the "gay marriage" legislation into law in 2009 after it passed the D.C. Council.

Conservatives had hoped the Supreme Court would at least take up the case after a closely divided lower court, the D.C. Appeals Court, issued a 5-4 decision in July allowing the board of elections' action to stand. But the Supreme Court, without comment, declined to take up the case, known as Jackson v. D.C. Board of Elections.

The board's actions have been particularly frustrating for D.C. conservatives who have watched citizens in other states -- such as California and Maine -- successfully place the issue on the ballot. Such an initiative defining marriage has never lost.

The suit was brought by D.C.-area pastor Harry Jackson, former D.C. delegate Walter Fauntroy and others who were represented by attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund and StandforMarriageDC.com. A January 2010 Washington Post poll found that 59 percent of residents -- including 70 percent of the city's black citizens -- believed the "issue should be put on a city-wide ballot."