Wednesday, February 10, 2010

D.C. Election Board Rejects Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage Law; Appeal Filed

In In re Referendum on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, (DCBOEE, Feb. 4, 2010), the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics rejected an attempt to hold a referendum on recently passed DC legislation authorizing same-sex marriage. The D.C. Initiative, Referendum and Recall Procedures Act requires the Board to refuse to accept referendum measures that would would frustrate efforts to eradicate discrimination prohibited by the D.C. Human Rights Act. The D.C. Superior Court has recently, using the same rationale, rejected an initiative petition to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman. (See prior posting.)

Yesterday, Alliance Defense Fund and Stand4Marriage DC filed a petition in D.C. Superior Court for review of the Board's decision rejecting the referendum. (Press release.) The petition (full text) argues that the referendum does not have the effect of authorizing discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation since the D.C. legislation does not make sexual orientation a determinative factor in authorizing issuance of marriage licenses.