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Friday, January 28, 2011

Republicans in Congress Want to Overturn Marriage Equality in D.C.

By Asher Huey -

In the middle of a recession, when Republicans promise that job creation will be the number one priority, what bill do House Republicans propose in the first month?  A bill to repeal marriage equality in D.C.
Marriage equality has been legal in D.C. since March of 2010. The D.C. City Council voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage.  In the November elections, marriage equality opponents ran candidates against pro-LGBT candidates with little success. They have asked for a vote on the issue, which was rejected even by the United States Supreme Court.  Now, they have turned their sights on Congress.
Because Congress has final say in matters relating to the District, all bills and new laws are subject to Congressional oversight. With this power, Republicans in the majority are going to try to force the issue.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who heads the Republican Study Committee, has announced that he will introduce a bill to put marriage equality on the ballot in the District. Jordan is not new to this battle; he has a long anti-gay history, including sponsoring a similar measure last Congress. Now there are two freshman lawmakers who have an enormous say in the issue. Congress oversees the District through the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives. The chair of the subcommittee is Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and the Vice Chair is Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona. Neither has a record on LGBT equality. Both were Tea Party backed candidates, consider themselves conservatives, and ousted incumbents in 2010.
Republicans claim they believe in local government, so this poses an inherent problem. If they really believe that local government is better government, then how come a congressman from Urbana, Ohio can interfere with local D.C. government? The Republican Party claims to focus on individual liberty. Well, restricting marriage from loving committed couples doesn’t sound like individual liberty. Individual liberty shouldn’t be construed to mean that a congressman can decide how two people define their relationship; it should mean that they give them a choice to define it in their own way.
We have two Tea Party freshmen who have a chance to put a stop to this, and the Tea Party claims they are not focused on social issues, just big government. Well, only time will tell what these two freshmen do, but I’m not holding my breath. And though the Republicans claim that they are going to focus on job creation and deficit reduction, this bill does neither. Not a single job will be created by denying marriage to gay couples in D.C.
Beyond the obvious hypocrisy, it’s worth reiterating that we should not be voting on civil rights. There is a reason that it isn’t being put on the ballot. Because voting on marriage equality violates D.C.’s human rights laws. Basic rights, including those of marriage equality, should not be subject to popular opinion. Our country prides itself on protecting the rights of minorities, but by putting those rights on the ballot, we are not living up to that promise.
Freedom to Marry has posted a petition to Rep. Jordan, asking him to drop this proposal. They point out that “the sky has not fallen, and families have been helped, with no one hurt.” This is key, no one is actually helped by Rep. Jordan's bill. It only serves to demoralize, penalize, and alienate the LGBT community. Be sure to sign the petition and let Rep. Jordan know that he shouldn’t be interfering with DC’s marriage equality.

petition text -

Don't Repeal Marriage in D.C.

Honorable Representative Jordan,

I read with great concern your statement about wanting to repeal the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian families in Washington, D.C. I am writing to tell you to focus on measures that will help, not hurt families including gay and lesbian families.

The law was passed by City’s legally elected City Council and signed into law by its mayor.

Two national polls conducted by CNN and the Associated Press show that a majority of Americans now believe that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry.

Americans are looking at their gay neighbors, colleagues, and family members and realizing that they deserve the same fairness, the same treatment, and the same respect as everyone else.

And in places like D.C where gay couples are able to marry, the sky has not fallen, and families have been helped, with no one hurt.

Please focus on rebuilding the economy and creating jobs and other real issues that are impacting American families.

Thank you,

[Your name here] 


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