Prepared by Bob Summersgill and Rick Rosendall

A Timeline of Marriage Equality

July 1975 GLAA members Cade Ware, Frank Kameny and Craig Howell testify before the D.C. Council in favor of Councilmember Arrington Dixon’s no-fault divorce bill, which includes legalization of same-sex marriages.
1976 Activist Philip Pannell testifies for same-sex marriage before the D.C. Council.
September 26, 1991 Daniels protests to Mayor Dixon on Corporation Counsel brief:“Our objection is not simply that the Corporation Counsel has taken a position against the marital rights of Gay men and Lesbians, but that this brief goes far beyond a narrow technical position to make a sweeping, gratuitous attack on the rights of Gay citizens to equal protection under the law. Specifically, the brief makes numerous appeals to canon law and religious traditions, displaying a flagrant disregard for the separation of church and state required by the First Amendment’s establishment clause. This echoes the homophobic rhetoric in the notorious Hardwick decision, which is as offensive to Gays as appeals to Plessy v. Ferguson would be to Blacks.”
May 16, 1994 Coudriet details complaints against Office of Corporation Counsel:“Under your involvement, your office has taken the position that discrimination (e.g., against men marrying men) can be justified if it is evenly applied (i.e., women can’t marry women either), an unbelievable return to the segregationist’s argument in the anti-miscegenation case of Loving v. Virginia (blacks may not marry whites, but that’s not discrimination because whites also cannot marry blacks). You may personally be comfortable asserting long-dead segregationists’ arguments but you must understand that opprobrium that would justifiably attach to such a position at both levels.”
July 1, 1996 “Families” section of GLAA’s Agenda: 1996
July 28, 1999 D.C. Appropriations Working Group Issues Talking Points in Defense of a Clean D.C. Appropriations Bill
April 15, 2002 GLAA comments on proposed Domestic Partnership rulemaking; Bob Summersgill, President:“…The regulations also fail to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions created in other jurisdictions. It is prudent to extend full faith and credit to other jurisdictions’ domestic partnerships. Those legal rights should not disappear in the District, but rather visitors and tourists should be covered in the case of accident or injury. The rights of hospital visitation and medical determination are no less important to our visitors than our citizens.”
July 6, 2003 GLAA to Chairman Frelinghuysen: Please oppose social riders to DC Appropriations bill
December 2003 GLAA publishes Marriage Law in the District of Columbia, introduction by Bob Summersgill:“The regulation established to implement the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 failed to recognize domestic partnerships and similar legal structures created in other jurisdictions. It is prudent to extend full faith and credit to other jurisdictions’ domestic partnerships.. Those legal rights should not disappear in the District, but rather visitors and tourists should be covered in the case of accident or injury. The rights of hospital visitation and medical determination are no less important to our visitors than to our citizens. Recognition of existing legal relationships also makes the District more attractive to potential residents. It demonstrates a recognition that we find their relationships valuable and worth supporting as a matter of public policy. At least four jurisdictions already recognize other partnerships: Cambridge, Massachusetts; Key West, Florida; Oakland, California; and West Hollywood, California. D.C. should do no less.”
March 2, 2004 GLAA applauds DC Council for unanimously introducing anti-FMA resolution
March 16, 2004 GLAA Memo: How to Get from Here to Marriage in One Easy Step: You Can’t
May 15, 2004 GLAA publishes compilation: Where D.C. Officials stand on equal marriage rights
May 16, 2004 GLAA publishes compilation: Where D.C. Officials stand on recognizing relationships from other jurisdictions
May 16, 2004 GLAA publishes “Defending Gay Families in Washington, D.C.”: talking points for meetings with members of Congress
July 12, 2004 Human Rights Campaign issues talking points on marriage recognition in D.C.
July 21, 2004 House approves District’s budget without ban on same-sex marriage recognition, The Washington Post
December 19, 2004 GLAA open letter to the community: Preparing to oppose an anti-gay ballot initiative
April 20, 2005 GLAA update on marriage fight in D.C.
May 3, 2005 OCFO Releases Tax Ruling on Question of Married, Same-Sex Couple Income Tax Filing Eligibility Under DC Law
May 4, 2005 GLAA update on gay couples, Congress, and the District
January 6, 2006 GLAA to Blade: Winning marriage requires strategy, The Washington Blade:“Ken Sain correctly notes our opposition to the public release of an analysis by D.C. Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti on recognizing same-sex marriages from Massachusetts, but falsely calls this an effort “to keep gay issues in the closet.” GLAA wrote the book on gay marriage in the District, and there is nothing closeted about us. We are simply dealing with reality: defying Congress may feel good, but Congress would veto our action and would likely revoke existing protections for gay families.” -Rick Rosendall
June 27, 2007 GLAA Alert: Rep. Goode targets DPs in DC Appropriations bill
June 29, 2007 Testimony by Bob Summersgill on “Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Amendment Act of 2007,” Bill 17-0135:“…[W]e should recognize domestic partnerships, civil unions and similar legal relationships like from other jurisdictions. I recommend a new paragraph in the chapter on establishing domestic partnerships:

§ 32-702. Domestic partnership registration and termination procedures
(i) Legal relationships substantially similar to domestic partnerships defined in this chapter from other jurisdictions are recognized as domestic partnerships in the District.

“The language needs to be broad and somewhat vague because the terminology varies from state to state and country to country. Benefits also vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the list of jurisdictions changes frequently. With the passage of this expanded bill, D.C. would have essentially the same rights and responsibilities for both domestic partnerships and marriage. That high standard is what we should use for evaluating recognition of other jurisdictions’ laws. This is similar to what other jurisdictions do, including New Jersey and the United Kingdom.

“The proposed language should cover civil unions from Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Hampshire, and domestic partnerships from California and Oregon. I believe that it would exclude domestic partnerships from Maine and reciprocal beneficiaries from Hawaii, as those laws only cover a few areas, and are therefore not substantially similar.”

As a result of this testimony, Phil Memndelson rewrote the bill and it became the “Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2008.”

October 19, 2007 Summersgill testifies on Domestic Partnership Amendments Act:“…it will not be very long before this Council will be dealing with the recognition of same-sex marriages from either other jurisdictions such as Massachusetts and Canada, or the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples by the District government. In order to facilitate that day, it would be prudent to modernize the language as we come to it.”
December 1, 2007 GLAA flyer: Civil Marriage Equality — a Marathon Effort
May 15, 2008 Rosendall discusses CA marriage victory, implications for D.C.
June 27, 2008 GLAA updates compilation: Where D.C. Officials Stand on Defending Gay Families
July 2, 2008 “Marriage and Family” section of GLAA’s Agenda: 2008
December 12, 2008 D.C. to recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions performed elsewhere, The Washington Blade.
January 28, 2009 Summersgill presses Mayor’s office on DP recognition
February 16, 2009 GLAA Action Alert: Urge Mayor to certify DPs from other jurisdictions:Mayor Fenty gave the following written response during the 2006 mayoral campaign to a question from GLAA:

“We have in the District of Columbia one of the highest percentages of gay families to our total population that any other city in the nation. We have over 5% of couples households in the District that identify as gay or lesbian…. I am also supportive of recognizing the rights and responsibilities given to these relationships in other states when those couples move to the District of Columbia. This will make DC a more attractive place to move to and one of our goals is to increase our population and our tax base.”

February 20, 2009 GLAA rebukes AG Nickles, urges markup of DP parentage bill
February 20, 2009 Summersgill slams Nickles on DP parentage bill:D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles refuses to certify domestic partners and civil unions from other states and countries for recognition as Domestic Partners in the District. This makes them as legal strangers if they come to D.C.. Passage of the Omnibus Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2008 (Law 17-231) added a new section to the D.C. Code, §32-702(i), which reads, “Relationships established in accordance with the laws of other jurisdictions that are substantially similar to domestic partnerships established by this chapter, as certified by the Mayor, shall be recognized as domestic partnerships in the District.”
February 27, 2009 Flaws in D.C. DP law?: Nickles says 4 states disqualified for partner recognition, but Mendelson calls the problem ‘manufactured’, The Washington Blade
February 27, 2009 Summersgill sends an email to Mendelson requesting an amendment to the Parentage bill creating automatic recognition of DPs, CUs, and marriages as DPs in the District. Draft legislation is included. Rosendall follows up with an email in support. Mendelson responds on Sunday, March 1, 2009 that he will amend the bill as requested.
March 5, 2009 Partners in Limbo: Activists plan new strategy as out-of-state partnerships wait for recognition, Metro Weekly
March 6, 2009 Mendelson meets with Bob Summersgill and Rick Rosendall on removing Mayor’s latitude in recognizing DPs, CUs, and marriages from other jurisdictions through an amendment to the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act 2009, B18-0066. This meeting is not documented on the web. Mendelson wanted to recognize marriages as marriages. Rosendall and Summersgill agreed that this was a good idea, but not in the Parentage bill where Congressional opposition might undermine adoption and other parental rights of domestic partnerships. The original draft language is thrown out and re-drafted.
March 9, 2009 Mendelson Urges Recognition: Councilmember pens letter to Mayor Fenty regarding out-of-state partnerships, Metro Weekly (The actual letter was dated 3/9/2009, the article was dated 3/19/2009.)
March 10, 2009 Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary unanimously vote in favor of the parentage bill with the recognition section added.
March 17, 2009 Committee of the Whole places the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Amendment Act of 2009, Bill 18-66, on the agenda for the Council’s Legislative Session on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.
March 17, 2009 David Catania objects to the recognition of marriages as domestic partnerships. After the Committee of the Whole meeting, David Catania raised objections to Mendelson about recognizing marriages as any less than marriages. When contacted by Mendelson, on March 30, Summersgill and Rosendall reiterated their objections to including marriage as marriage recognition in the Parentage bill.
April 2, 2009 Mendelson discusses the plan to recognize marriages from other jurisdictions as marriage in the District through amending an unrelated bill. Activists—including Summersgill, Rosendall, and Michael Crawford—attending fundraiser for Mendelson’s re-election welcome the proposal.
April 7, 2009 Council unanimously amends “Disclosure to the United States District Court Amendment Act of 2009”, Bill 18-0010, to include a new section recognizing marriages between same-sex couples from other jurisdictions as marriages in the District. Bill 18-0066 (Parentage) is amended to remove recognition of marriages as DPs. It also passes unanimously.
April 7, 2009 GLAA thanks Councilmembers for marriage recognition vote
April 12, 2009 Rosendall: clarification & fact check on Marc Fisher column:“GLAA strongly supports marriage equality; indeed, we have been among its leading local advocates in D.C. for many years…. Prior to the D.C. Council’s April 7 vote on recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, GLAA conveyed our support for the measure in consultations with Councilmember Phil Mendelson, as the logical next step in our collective efforts toward the goal of full marriage equality. GLAA believes that D.C. should pursue marriage equality legislation as soon as discussions among our allies suggest it has a reasonable chance of being sustained, given Congress’ history of interference in D.C. self-rule. The sustainability standard is one that we first heard articulated by Councilmember David Catania.”
May 5, 2009 D.C. Council gives final passage to Bill 18-0010, renamed “Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009.”
May 6, 2009 Mayor Adrian Fenty signs Bill 18-0010, which becomes Act 18-0070.
May 11, 2009 Act 18-0070 is transmitted to Congress.
May 11, 2009 GLAA issues 10 Points for D.C. Council Members on Marriage Equality.
May 13, 2009 GLAA issues revised compilation, “Where They Stand:
D.C. Officials on Defending Gay Families.”
May 16, 2009 Philip Pannell speaks to Ward 8 Democrats in support of marriage equality.
May 16, 2009 Ward 8 Democrats endorse marriage equality.
May 17, 2009 GLAA issues Talking Points on Marriage Equality in flyer format.
May 21, 2009 D.C. Defense of Marriage Act introduced in Congress.
May 27, 2009 Group Asks for Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage.
May 27, 2009 GLAA issues Talking Points flyer in Spanish.
June 1, 2009 GLAA writes to the general counsel of the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, arguing that the proposed referendum is invalid:“The city recognized the danger of subjecting minority protections to a plebiscite thirty years ago when it barred referenda and initiatives from taking away rights guaranteed under Title 2, Chapter 14. Here is the relevant passage in D.C. Code Section 1-1001.16 (b)(1): ‘Upon receipt of each proposed initiative or referendum measure, the Board shall refuse to accept the measure if the Board finds that it … authorizes, or would have the effect of authorizing, discrimination prohibited under Chapter 14 of Title 2….’

“Authorizing discrimination against gay people is precisely the purpose of the proposed referendum, which is why the Board should refuse to accept it. We as gay citizens have not only justice but the law on our side when we say that our families are entitled to the same civil protections as everyone else, as expressed in the District’s motto, Justitia Omnibus.”

June 2, 2009 D.C. clergy declare support for marriage equality:“Our religious traditions and scriptures teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is our human capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is one expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore affirm the right of loving same-gender couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with loving heterosexual couples.

“We recognize that there are principled differences on this issue within the religious community. We affirm that the state should not require any religious group to officiate at, or bless, same-gender marriages. However, the state also should not favor the convictions of one religious group over another by denying individuals their fundamental civil right to marry whom they love.”

June 9, 2009 Councilmember Phil Mendelson writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 9, 2009 Brian K. Flowers, General Counsel of the D.C. Council, writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 9, 2009 Councilmember Jack Evans writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 9, 2009 ACLU of the National Capital Area writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 10, 2009 Mark H. Levine, counsel for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, submits Memorandum of Points and Authorities arguing that the proposed referendum is not a proper subject for referendum.
June 10, 2009 Summersgill testifies against proposed referendum:“Domestic partnerships are not marriage. They are a separate and unequal relationship that incompletely fills a gap in the discriminatory availability of marriage licenses. In D.C., the domestic partnership law was created and expanded to meet immediate needs, but not as a substitute for marriage.”
June 10, 2009 Rosendall testifies for GLAA against proposed referendum.
June 11, 2009 DC for Democracy writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 11, 2009 D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles writes to Board of Elections and Ethics against proposed referendum.
June 15, 2009 D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics rules against proposed referendum.
June 17, 2009 Anti-gay ministers file suit against D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics.
June 24, 2009 D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opposes anti-gay ministers’ stay request.
June 24, 2009 D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles opposes anti-gay ministers’ stay request.
June 30, 2009 D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin rules against proposed referendum.
June 30, 2009 GLAA celebrates court ruling.
July 7, 2009 Act 18-0070 becomes Law 18-0009 upon completion of congressional review period.
July 22, 2009 New Law Protects Children Born to Same-Sex Parents in the District of Columbia
August 12, 2009 ANC commissioner sets meeting on anti-gay initiative
August 14, 2009 GLAA to ANCs: Please oppose ballot initiative on marriage:The push for marriage equality is not just about rights, but about people embracing responsibility. When two people of whatever gender seal their mutual love and commitment with a marriage contract, the community is strengthened. The definition of sexual orientation in the D.C. Human Rights Act is “male or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality, by preference or practice.” When two heterosexual people fall in love, the widespread expectation is that they will marry. To bar gay citizens from a practice that our straight siblings take for granted — a practice many of us consider essential to our security and happiness — is cruel, destructive, and a clear violation of the Human Rights Act.
August 19, 2009 GLAA alert: meeting set on proposed anti-gay initiative
August 21, 2009 Ten ways Chris Crain was wrong
September 8, 2009 Another initiative supporter denies opposing same-sex marriage
September 17, 2009 Rosendall: Time to Act:As one who counseled caution over the years, I never said we should wait until there was no risk. I said we should wait until we had a fighting chance. Now is that moment. We have followed our plan and built our bridge to marriage equality. Now we must cross it.
September 30, 2009 Marriage Equality: 10 Talking Points (pdf)
October 5, 2009 Nickles: proposed initiative improper
October 15, 2009 Summersgill testifies on joint filing bill
October 19, 2009 Testify for Marriage Equality in D.C.
October 26, 2009 Rosendall testifies for GLAA against proposed initiative:Contrary to claims by our opponents, the civil institution of marriage has changed prior to the gay community knocking on its door. Specifically, it was changed to recognize the equal status of women. The evolution of civil marriage is part of our nation’s ongoing struggle to live out the true meaning of its creed.

Our opponents have cited the Dean case from the 1990s. First, unlike 15 years ago, there are legal same-sex marriages in several states and in several countries. Second, the legislative intent has changed. References to “husband” and “wife” in various parts of the D.C. Code have been changed to the gender-neutral “spouse,” and references to “father” and “mother” to “parent.” This year the Council passed a law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. Finally, ten Council members on October 6 co-introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, and an eleventh member has pledged to vote for it.

The city recognized the danger of subjecting minority protections to a plebiscite thirty years ago when, at our behest, it barred any referendum or initiative that “authorizes, or would have the effect of authorizing, discrimination prohibited under Chapter 14 of Title 2….” Authorizing discrimination against gay people is precisely the purpose of the proposed Initiative, which is why the Board should refuse to accept it.

October 26, 2009 Summersgill testifies on marriage equality bill
October 26, 2009 Rosendall delivers GLAA testimony for marriage equality bill:It is revealing that many of our opponents do not believe that women should be able to serve as ministers. To defend this misogyny they cite Scripture, just as defenders of slavery once did. It is therefore no surprise that they portray marriage as eternally unchanging—ignoring the changes of the past half century that have done so much for the emancipation of women.

Our opponents believe that you, our elected legislators, are unfit to decide this matter. They demand a ballot initiative. It is improper to put human rights protections to a plebiscite; it is also against D.C. law. The Council routinely deals with controversies, and is capable of dealing with this one. People who disagree can protest, lobby, and support challengers in the next election. Polls, however, show that most Washingtonians agree with us.

Decades of advocacy have brought GLAA to this moment. We do our work so that those who come after us will face fewer obstacles than we did, and so that their loves will not mark them as second-class citizens.

Bishop Jackson talks as if gay people just arrived here from another planet. In fact, our roots in this city run deep. We have helped build our communities, and we will defend them from the ministers of fear and intolerance.

To our opponents: Our lives are as worthy as yours, our love is as strong as yours, and our resolve is as great as yours. Civil marriage equality will protect and strengthen thousands of actual families and make our city more faithful to its motto, Justitia Omnibus.

October 28, 2009 GSDC files reply brief on initiative
November 5, 2009 Continuing the struggle, state by state
November 10, 2009 Committee passes marriage bill 4-1, defeats conscience clause
November 10, 2009 Committee report on Bill 18-482
November 10, 2009 Committee print of Bill 18-482
November 15, 2009 WaPo’s discordant editorial on the Catholic Church and marriage equality
November 19, 2009 Correcting WaPo on the Catholic Church’s opposition to marriage equality
November 17, 2009 BOEE ruling against marriage initiative
November 18, 2009 Anti-gay lawsuit against BOEE ruling
November 20, 2009 12 groups answer archdiocese, urge marriage bill fix
November 29, 2009 Answer to anti-marriage-equality op-ed
December 1, 2009 Odd couple after marriage-equality vote
December 3, 2009 Gary Imhoff gets nuttier and nuttier
December 15, 2009 Victory for Marriage Equality in D.C.:We are lifted up today by the spirits of friends and forebears who did not live to celebrate this moment with us, including past GLAA leaders Mel Boozer, Jim Zais, Cade Ware, and Mayo Lee. And we are mindful of the LGBT people who will come after us, whose lives will be easier because of what we did today.

As several councilmembers noted before the vote, our work is not done. Indeed, as former GLAA President Bob Summersgill, who was our lead strategist in preparing the way for this moment, Mayor Fenty’s signature will complete the easy part of our work. Ahead of us is potential Congressional action, which is likelier to come in the form of an anti-gay rider to next year’s D.C. appropriations bill rather than a resolution of disapproval, and our adversaries’ efforts in court. After the vote, our opponents pledged another referendum effort, and their lawsuit in the proposed initiative is already pending in court. We urge everyone to support the Campaign for All D.C. Families, which will coordinate the fight whether in Congress or the courts.

December 18, 2009 Mayor Fenty signs marriage equality bill
December 18, 2009 Signed. sealed and delivered
December 18, 2009 Pro-LGBT advocates oppose censorship of Metro ads
December 21, 2009 D.C. brief in marriage initiative case
December 21, 2009 D.C. files brief in marriage initiative case
January 5, 2010 Nutjob watch: Marriage equality as a gentrification ploy
January 5, 2010 Inhofe et al. file marriage brief
January 5, 2010 Another initiative filed, BOEE hearing set
January 6, 2010 Campaign for All D.C. Families files brief
January 6, 2010 Referendum proposed against marriage bill
January 14, 2010 Judge rules against D.C. initiative
January 22, 2010 City responds to latest referendum
January 27, 2010 Rosendall testifies against marriage referendum
January 28, 2010 Additional testimony on marriage referendum
February 4, 2010 Board of Elections and Ethics rejects D.C. marriage referendum
February 5, 2010 Jackson requests stay of law date
February 9, 2010 Nickles opposes “One Man One Woman” initiative
February 9, 2010 Summersgill slams latest initiative:Please reject the measure “Preservation of Traditional Marriage One Man One Woman 2009” as it is not in proper legislative form; would violate the Human Rights Act; and would limit a budget act.

The legislative text in this measure is the statement “To repeal the District of Columbia’s ‘Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009,'” followed by the text of the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009” itself. Were the measure to be approved—and the initiative to become law—it would cause the existing law to be re-enacted. If the initiative failed, the same act would already be law. The outcome would be the same either way as the measure fails to propose new law.

Additionally, sections 5 and 6 are improper. Since the Council has no role in passing an initiative, section 5 is entirely void, inappropriate and improper. Likewise, section 6 discusses the role of the Mayor. The Mayor is not involved in the process, so the section is void, inappropriate and improper.

Since there isn’t proper legislative text, the Board should find the measure improper.

The summary statement presents an entirely different intention….

February 10, 2010 Witness list for BOEE hearing on proposed referendum on D.C. marriage law
February 16, 2010 Rosendall slams latest initiative
February 16, 2010 Mendelson opposes latest initiative
February 16, 2010 Flowers opposes latest initiative
February 16, 2010 Report on Board of Elections hearing:Tuesday morning’s Board of Elections and Ethics hearing on the latest proposed voter initiative, titled “Preservation of Traditional Marriage One Man One Woman 2009,” had few witnesses but plenty of anti-gay looniness on display.

Testifying in favor of the measure were Joyce A. Little, the proposer; her friend Ann Miller of Bowie, Maryland; and perpetual witness Michael Sindram. Bob Summersgill and I were sitting in the front row taking it all in, with Bob twittering some amusingly snarky observations and I scribbling on a notepad. Sultan Shakir of HRC was also on hand, typing into his laptop.

Ms. Little said D.C. was “more like a fascist state” for denying people the right to vote on gay people’s right to marry. Beside her, Ms. Miller bounced in her seat and said “mm hm” and “yes” and finger-snapped and knocked on the table; Board Chairman Errol Arthur admonished her several times. Little cited the successful use of a ballot measure in Maine to overturn marriage equality there. She said that America was founded on two principles, religion and the right to vote. She referred to the “satanic agenda of legalizing homosexual marriage.” At this point, Ms. Miller’s cell phone went off and everything stopped while she searched for it in her bag. Little continued, “But God is real. Man in his arrogance is truly ignorant.” Her best line of the day was, “You are ushering in a Frankenstonian age” in which there would be creatures that were “half man and half dog.” She invoked Sodom and Gomorrah. She ended by saying to the Board members, “You too are going to hell. May God have mercy on your immortal soul.” Chairman Arthur responded simply, “Thank you, Ma’am.”
Ms. Miller said it was imperative “to stop the homosexual who is at war with God.” She read from a San Francisco Chronicle article from January 5, 2008, about a drug-resistant bacteria that caused MRSA infections. It was the old story of gay people as diseased pariahs who don’t deserve any rights. She quoted Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s notorious statement from the 1857 Dred Scott decision that blacks were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The logic here is that slavery was a great crime and therefore gay people should not be allowed to marry. If that makes no sense to you, join the club.

February 18, 2010 The Jackson Jive:[Bishop Harry] Jackson slammed The Washington Post for a poll it commissioned that shows a majority in the District supports marriage equality. Jackson’s group, Stand for Marriage DC, has a poll that shows different results. Multiple polls confirm the Post’s findings; but Jackson can believe his own push polls (as one analysis suggested they are), just as he pretends that the “Amens” from his suburban congregation will affect the vote in D.C.

Jackson praised Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) for introducing a bill to force a ballot measure on the District. This stands about as much chance as a scientist at the Tea Party Convention, but even if it happened, it would be defeated by the liberal-leaning electorate that Jackson denies. Even if a majority, according to the Post poll, wants to vote on my rights, which I think is improper, I am glad that in the event a majority would uphold them.

D.C. voters are not Jackson’s true constituents. As my colleague Bob Summersgill reported at on Feb. 2, all of Stand for Marriage DC’s reported funding came from outside groups including Focus on the Family, National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council, and Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition.

February 20, 2010 The Archdiocese of Washington — not a victim, but a bully:On December 14, the day before the D.C. Council’s final passage of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, Council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, received proposed amendatory language from the Archdiocese of Washington. He had been in discussions with them for some time in a good-faith effort to resolve any differences if resolution were possible. Even at that late hour, he did not dismiss the proposed changes out of hand but consulted policy advocates including myself and faith community leaders who had worked for passage of the bill.

The suggested language from the Archdiocese included a “business necessity” exemption to the non-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act. I replied that for Catholic Charities to claim a business necessity in this case would require stretching and deforming the Human Rights Act so badly that it would make every statue of the Virgin Mary in town weep. The language from the Archdiocese amounted to a blanket license to discriminate that went far beyond the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause which allows them, for example, to deny the marriage sacrament in cases that violate their religious doctrine. Their amendment in effect would have dismantled the “wall of separation between church and state” described by Thomas Jefferson.

Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s.” The Archdiocese’s proposal rendered everything to their particular concept of God and nothing to the state or the secular sphere that people of every faith and no faith must share. The language in the bill already included protections for the core religious functions of religious organizations while preserving the right of the government to regulate the provision of public services. The Archdiocese has contracted with the city to provide social services for many years without demanding a blanket exemption to discriminate against divorced and remarried persons, even though divorce and remarriage are contrary to Catholic doctrine. Their selective invocation of doctrinal concerns in the present case, regarding not their church function but their function as a city contractor, was a hypocritical attempt to bully the city into letting them dictate public policy. Fortunately, the city refused to be bullied.

A revealing moment came when Mendelson asked the Archdiocese whether it would support the civil marriage equality bill if the Council accepted its proposed changes. The answer, of course, was no. This is Mother Church’s one-sided concept of negotiation. In this case, the Church badly overplayed its hand and brought it widespread cries of heartlessness.

February 20, 2010 Judge Holeman denies Jackson stay request
February 22, 2010 Jackson appeals stay denial
February 25, 2010 Norton hosts marriage equality celebration Mar. 2
February 26, 2010 Appeals court denies stay
March 2, 2010 Nickles shreds Jackson SCOTUS appeal
March 2, 2010 Press Statement: True Radicals Defeated as Marriage Equality Reaches D.C.
March 2, 2010 Chief Justice denies stay
March 2, 2010 District Court denies Jackson motion
March 3, 2010 The beautiful sight outside Room 4485:It was a bit of a circus this morning outside D.C. Superior Court at 500 Indiana Avenue, NW. There was a phalanx of television news cameras; a bunch of activists, including my favorite media expert Cathy Renna; some gay-affirming clergy; and a few members of the Phelps family from Topeka singing anti-gay hymns and holding up hateful signs. But we weren’t letting the “God Hates Fags” stuff bother us. This was a victorious moment. I went upstairs to Room 4485, the Marriage Bureau, outside of which dozens of gay and lesbian couples were lined up stretching down the hall, and I handed out some commemorative pens that GLAA had ordered (saying “D.C. Marriage Equality – March 3, 2010”) until I ran out. It was great seeing friends in the line. To see so many decades of activism by countless people crowned by this glorious moment is too joyous and satisfying for words.

I had agreed earlier in the morning to run over to the News Channel 8 studio for a 10 a.m. interview, so I hopped a cab from the courthouse to 1100 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn and back, but I enjoyed giving one of the commemorative pens to morning anchor Dave Lucas. When I got back to the courthouse, Craig Howell had shown up with a bunch of young folks who were there to counter-protest the Phelps clan, but the latter had left. Craig and I went up and checked out the line outside the marriage bureau, and I saw some who had been there an hour and a half earlier. So they are being patient! I spoke to one friend in line who’s been with his partner for 22 years, and they have a 6-year-old son. These are the real people and families for whom we do our work. God bless us all for reaching this day.

I witnessed one charming moment outside the courthouse that was not recorded by any video cameras: A group of police officers were leaving the courthouse around 11:00, and one of them playfully slipped his arm into that of another to pretend that they had just filed their marriage license application. They had big grins on their faces and I thought, oh how far we’ve come.

March 4, 2010 How We Won
March 9, 2010 A fine day for a wedding (or three)
March 10, 2010 A news photo that says it all:I called my dear friend Robert, a gay African American news executive based in New York, and asked him if he had seen today’s Washington Post. He hadn’t, so he reached for a copy. He was so moved by this photo of these happily married fathers and their well-dressed baby girls that he cried. We were both crying. This news photo by the Post’s Bill O’Leary shows with powerful impact what our community has just achieved. Malena and Zoe will grow up in a different world than Robert and I did. They will receive powerful public confirmation that they can expect happiness and positive social reinforcement regardless of whom they love. And they will see their daddies treated as first-class citizens. Pinch me. Yes, this really happened. We really did it.
March 15, 2010 GLAA defends Del. Norton from Barras:What was at issue in the marriage equality bill that is now law was not whether gay people would exist, or whether we would have families; what was at issue was whether the families we already have would be respected and legally protected. And the reason we won is that we have participated openly in political advocacy and organizing here since the dawn of Home Rule. It is a little silly and patronizing for some to continue pretending that our city’s overwhelmingly pro-gay legislature got that way by accident, or because the voters were not paying attention.
March 26, 2010 Summersgill corrects the record on D.C. marriage equality victory
January 18, 2011 Supreme Court of the United States denies writ of certiorari in D.C. gay marriage referendum case, cementing victory for civil marriage equality in D.C.
November 28, 2012 GLAA provides suggested reading on marriage equality
June 2, 2013 Oral history on winning marriage equality in DCVideo created by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School, Capitol Hill campus.