Bennett Defends Traditional Marriage In Nation's Capital



CONTACT: Tara DiJulio, 202-224-5444, Washington DC 20510
For Release FEBRUARY 2, 2010


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) introduced legislation today that would guarantee residents of Washington, D.C. the right to vote and decide whether same-sex marriage licenses should be issued in the nation's capital rather than allowing the decision to be made by the D.C. city council.

"The definition of marriage affects every person, and should be debated openly, lawfully, and democratically," said Bennett. "The board's decision to deny the people of Washington, D.C. a vote was incorrect and reminiscent of the judicial activism that has imposed gay marriage by fiat and stimulated such discord in other venues. Congress should act to ensure that the question is settled by a democratic ballot initiative process."

The District of Columbia Referendum on Marriage Act would ban Washington, D.C. from issuing same-sex marriage licenses until district residents are given the opportunity to vote on the matter in a ballot or referendum.

In December 2009, the Washington, D.C. city council passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in D.C. The mayor is expected to sign the bill. Unless Congress intervenes, the district will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in March 2010.

The city council was able to take this action only because efforts to define marriage by ballot initiative had been thwarted by the unelected District of Columbia Board of Elections. The board adopted, and the D.C. Superior Court upheld, an activist interpretation of the D.C. Human Rights Law to declare that a ballot initiative defining marriage as between a man and a woman was unlawful discrimination.

Bennett's bill is cosponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced similar legislation in the United States House of Representatives earlier this year.

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