Ministers Attempt to Halt D.C. Gay Marriages

Gay and lesbian couples will be able to apply for a marriage license in the nation's capital beginning Wednesday.

But traditional marriage supporters are making a last minute effort to stop the new law, which was passed in December, from taking effect.

Washington, D.C.-based pastor Walter E. Fauntroy, a former member of the U.S. Congress, was among those on Monday who filed court papers with Chief Justice John Roberts, arguing for the people's right to vote on the matter, according to The Associated Press.

Local courts have rejected the arguments.

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Washington by lawmakers. Ministers and other opponents of the measure have rallied and argued for a ballot initiative to let voters decide on the issue.

"The people have a right to have the final say on any law regarding marriage passed by the D.C. Council. The D.C. Charter makes that right clear, and officials should not be ignoring the right of the people to vote for or against the new definition of marriage fabricated by the council," said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund.

ADF is representing ministers and other registered voters in an appeal to stay the same-sex marriage law.

Last month the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics refused to accept a proposal to give D.C. voters the opportunity to vote on the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009." An appeal, filed by ADF, to the D.C. Superior Court was rejected.

On Feb. 22, ADF appealed the local court's decision to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

"We are appealing because the district's marriage redefinition law shouldn't go into effect until voters have the opportunity to vote on a critical matter that affects everyone in the district," said Nimocks.

National Christian leaders have also added their voice in calling for a public vote on the issue.

In a Feb. 22 letter, a dozen Christian and conservative leaders, including Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, stated, "We not only encourage you to act on behalf of the people in the District, but we also urge you to act on behalf of those we represent in all fifty states…. The people whom we represent expect each member of the Senate [and House of Representatives] to take action to permit the people in the District of Columbia the opportunity to vote by referendum on this most important issue of marriage."

A Washington Post poll in January revealed that a majority of residents (59 percent) believe same-sex marriage should be placed on a city-wide ballot.