An overwhelming majority on the D.C. Council voted today to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, sending the District deeper into the national debate and galvanizing supporters on both sides of the issue.
The measure, approved by a vote 12 to 1, now goes to Mayor Arian M. Fenty (D), a supporter of gay marriage.
If Fenty signs it, the District will put the same-sex marriage issue directly before the Congress. Under Home Rule, the District's laws are subject to a 30-day congressional review period.
After the vote, a large crowd of opponents, led by local ministers, began yelling "Get them off the council!" referring to the members who supported the measure. After the vote, a large crowd of opponents, led by local ministers, began yelling "Get them off the council!" referring to the members who supported the measure. The crowd caused such a ruckus that security guards and D.C. police officers had to be called in to restore order.
"We need a new Council. They are destroying our youth," shouted Paul Trantham, who lives in Southeast. "Every minister who fears God should be here. This is disrespectful to the nation's Capitol. There is nothing equal about same-sex marriage."
Another protester, C.T. Riley, added: "This is not over. We are going to the hill with this issue."
The Council initially voted unanimously, without debate, to approve the bill. But Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) apparently did not realize what he was voting on. A few minutes after the initial vote, Barry made a motion to reconsider the vote.
He then voted against the proposal. Before the final vote, Barry noted he has been a longtime supporter of gay rights but said he decided to stand with the "ministers who stand on the moral compass of God."
"It has been a very agonizing and difficult decision," Barry said. He then added, "I feel comfortable with this position because I know where my heart is. . . . I am representing my constituents. I have thought about it lot and I have been a friend of [the gay] community and will continue to be a friend of this community."
Council member David A. Catania (I-At large), one of two openly gay members of the Council, appeared to take a swipe at Barry over his stance.
"This issue is whether or not our colleagues on a personal level view me and [Council member] Jim Graham as your equals," Catania said, referring to the other openly gay member of the council. "If we are permitted the same rights and responsibilities and obligations as our colleagues. So this is personal. This is acknowledging our families as much as we acknowledge yours."
Barry quickly fired back at Catania.
It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses
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