Gay Marriages Now Recognized in D.C.

Same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries are now recognized in the nation's capital.

A law recognizing gay and lesbian couples who legally married outside the district took effect on Tuesday.

While issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples remains illegal, D.C. Council member David Catania said he plans to introduce legislation in the fall that would allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in Washington.

The bill, approved by the D.C. Council in May, became law after a failed attempt by conservatives, including ministers, to receive approval for a referendum.

In a lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, they asked to delay enactment of the law recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere as they sought a referendum, which would allow voters to decide on the matter.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin rejected the request last week and said a referendum would violate the Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The ruling was in agreement with an earlier decision by the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics which also denied the proposal to take the issue to voters.

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., who was leading the effort for a referendum, says the bill was passed without any public input and simply wants the voters to have their say on the controversial matter.

Continuing the marriage fight, Jackson plans to file a ballot initiative that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Under the new law, same-sex couples married in other states are entitled to the same legal rights and benefits as other married couples.

New York also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states, which include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.