Clarification & fact check on Marc Fisher column
Marc Fisher’s April 12 column in The Washington Post, titled “Opinions Vary on Same-Sex Marriage in D.C.”
may have given a mistaken impression of GLAA's position. GLAA strongly supports marriage equality; indeed, we have been among its leading local advocates in D.C. for many years. This is shown by our leadership ranging from basic legal research into the DC Code to tracking of candidate positions on marriage equality over many election cycles. My reference to 10 to 15 years was an estimate of the time it will take to achieve marriage equality nationwide, not a suggestion that D.C. should wait that long before pressing ahead.
Prior to the D.C. Council's April 7 vote on recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, GLAA conveyed our support for the measure in consultations with Councilmember Phil Mendelson, as the logical next step in our collective efforts toward the goal of full marriage equality.
GLAA believes that D.C. should pursue marriage equality legislation as soon as discussions among our allies suggest it has a reasonable chance of being sustained, given Congress' history of interference in D.C. self-rule. The sustainability standard is one that we first heard articulated by Councilmember David Catania.
Fisher quotes Councilmember Catania as saying that Congress "never actually reversed a law in the history of home rule," which is untrue (perhaps it was another inaccurate quote). Congress in 1981 overturned the D.C. Sexual Assault Reform Act, which included the city’s first attempt to repeal its old anti-sodomy law. (I have been around that long, and remember it vividly.) It should be noted that the legislative veto is harder to accomplish now, because the court ruled in INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983), that the unicameral veto was inconsistent with the bicameralism principle and the Presentment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Congresswoman Norton once told us there were two earlier disapproval actions as well. There was also the Armstrong Amendment, the Control Board in the 1990s stripping the Mayor of all authority other than Parks and Recreation, and (going much further back) the stripping away of home rule under Boss Shepard. That shameful history of congressional interference should not be forgotten, even as we continue to press our rights.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Council, the Mayor, Congresswoman Norton, and our other allies to advance the rights of all our families.
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington , D.C.