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Same-sex marriage rights a step closer in District of Columbia

  • Story Highlights
  • Washington Council votes 12-0 for legislation recognizing same-sex marriages
  • Council is expected to hold a final vote on May 5; if approved, must go to Congress
  • City's law provides domestic partnerships for lesbian, gay, and heterosexual couples
  • Human Rights Campaign urges federal lawmakers not to intervene
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By Ed Hornick
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the same day that Vermont's House and Senate voted to override GOP Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state, the Washington City Council voted 12-0 Tuesday in favor of allowing same-sex marriages performed in other states to be recognized in the nation's capital.

Congress may vote on whether Washington will allow same-sex marriages to be accepted in the nation's capital.

Congress may vote on whether Washington will allow same-sex marriages to be accepted in the nation's capital.

But nothing is set in stone yet.

The Washington council is expected to hold a final vote on May 5. The bill would then go to Mayor Adrian Fenty, a Democrat who supports gay marriage but told Tuesday that he has yet to review the legislation.

If approved, the measure would then encounter its biggest potential hurdle: It would be sent to Congress for a legislative review and vote, setting up what would amount to a straight up-or-down vote on same-sex marriage.

Because Washington is not a state, its legislation must pass congressional muster. Some measures approved by overwhelmingly Democratic Washington voters, including a restrictive gun law and a proposal decriminalizing medical marijuana use, have been vetoed by Congress in recent years.

"This is a right that should be enjoyed by all of our citizens," Council Member Jack Evans, a Democrat, said in an interview with WTOP. "Today is another major step toward the ultimate goal of all of us living in a city and a country where everyone is treated equally."

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, urged federal lawmakers not to intervene.

"We look forward to the final Council votes, and urge Mayor Fenty to sign this common-sense legislation," Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said. "We also hope that Congress will respect the Council's votes and will respect the District of Columbia's choice to provide equal recognition for couples who have legally entered into relationships in other jurisdictions."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Tuesday condemned the votes in Vermont and Washington.

"Same-sex 'marriage' is a movement driven by wealthy homosexual activists and a liberal elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well. Time and again, we see when citizens have the opportunity to vote at the ballot box, they consistently opt to support traditional marriage," Perkins said.

"The radical left wants to destroy the traditional union of one man and one woman across the country and they will not rest until they do so. The marriage amendment movement has been many times more successful than the same-sex 'marriage' movement," Perkins added.

Washington law currently provides domestic partnerships for lesbian, gay and heterosexual couples. The partnerships give access to the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

Four states recognize marriage for gay and lesbian couples: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and Vermont. Iowa's recognition of same-sex marriages is slated to begin later this month; Vermont's would begin in September.

Conservative blogger Rod Dreher, writing on, a Web site that covers spirituality and religion, said the same-sex marriage rulings show the Democratic process at work.

While Dreher is opposed to same-sex marriage, he said if states are going to have it, "Vermont just got it the right way: democratically, through legislative action."

"A social experiment as radical as same-sex marriage should not be attempted without democratic consensus," he wrote.

Dreher said he believes the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately have to rule on same-sex marriages and most likely find them constitutional. Your thoughts on same-sex marriage

"And that being the case, it might be better for my side if it gets done sooner rather than later. If done sooner, there might still be enough backlash left in the American people to get a constitutional amendment passed erecting a high barrier or protection around religious institutions," he said.

For openly gay conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan, the Washington ruling, while preliminary, is "enough reason to celebrate."

"I have a chance to be legally married in the place I live for eight months of the year. Now, just think for a minute how many heterosexuals have ever asked themselves this question -- even immigrating to foreign countries, let alone moving from one state to another," Sullivan wrote on his blog, featured on The Atlantic's Web site.

"This is enough for me right now. It has been such a long journey, but we can see the mountaintop now," he said.

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