Supreme Court Rejects Effort To Overturn D.C.’s Gay Marriage Law

A court victory for same-sex marriage:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to revive a lawsuit intending to allow a voter referendum on the District’s same-sex marriage law.

Local courts have said the District’s Board of Elections and Ethics was justified in denying attempts by opponents of same-sex marriage to put the issue to a vote. Without comment, the justices said they would not review the latest decision upholding the board’s decision by the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The board has contended that such a ballot initiative would, if approved, violate the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. A judge agreed, and the appeals court by a 5 to 4 vote upheld the ruling.

The challenge was led by Bishop Harry Jackson, a D.C. resident who is pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville. He and other opponents, represented by a conservative legal group, said it should not be up to officials to decide when public initiatives are allowed.

The D.C. appeals court majority said that the board “correctly determined that the proposed initiative would have the effect of authorizing” discrimination.

And the court said the council “was not obliged to allow initiatives that would have the effect of authorizing discrimination prohibited by the Human Rights Act to be put to voters, and then to repeal them, or to wait for them to be challenged as having been improper subjects of initiative, should they be approved by voters.”

Given the statutory issues involved, this doesn’t likely mean much of anything for future litigation. Nonetheless, good news is good news

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. tom p says:

    >>>>>Nonetheless, good news is good news<<<

    Indeed…

  2. john says:

    I’m a tad confused by the reasoning given in the article. IANAL, but isn’t DC’s Human Rights Act, a law of the city? And wouldn’t the proposed ban supercede the Act?

    Point being, it sounds to me (again as a non-lawyer) a little like the courts are saying that a new law can not over-ride an older law. Which doesn’t make sense to me.

  3. sam says:

    “I’m a tad confused by the reasoning given in the article. IANAL, but isn’t DC’s Human Rights Act, a law of the city? And wouldn’t the proposed ban supercede the Act?”

    Uh, no. The referendum was not directed at overturning the District’s Human Rights Act, but at an act made in pursuance of the Human Rights Act. Had the referendum succeeded, it would have resulted in a situation prohibited by the Human Rights Act:

    The board has contended that such a ballot initiative would, if approved, violate the city’s Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. A judge agreed, and the appeals court by a 5 to 4 vote upheld the ruling.

  4. john says:

    sam, that’s what I’m having trouble with. Are you saying that, for example, prohibition should never have been repealed, because that would have been unconstitutional? Or DADT could not have been repealed because DATA is (was) the law? Or that the 1099 portion of the Dem’s HC law can’t be removed, because that would violate the HC law.

    Not trying to be confrontational here, but it seems like you’re just saying the exact same thing as the article. From the blurb you requoted, it certainly sounds like the board is saying “because this new law that we wouldn’t like might overturn parts of the old law that we do like, we’re not going to allow it to come up for a vote.”

    If you can provide a better source/analysis of this perhaps?