By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
It occurred to me as I was pondering the politics of the recent gay marriage developments that if the D.C. City Council is not careful, the issue could become another impediment in the city's quest for a vote in Congress.
Here's how: The D.C. council yesterday gave preliminary approval to a law accepting same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions (careful—can't say "other states"). Soon the council will consider a bill that would affirmatively legalize gay marriages in the District (it currently allows domestic partnerships, but hasn't gone all the way, as it were). But, of course, D.C. doesn't get final say in anything it does. Congress can and will review at will.
And the gay marriage issue will unfold against the backdrop of the ongoing effort to secure a voting member in the House—an effort that has been temporarily stalled by the unrelated issue of guns. D.C. has a restrictive gun law (though no longer an outright ban), and guns is an issue that (a) cuts across party lines and (b) has more weight with voters across the country than D.C. voting rights (though it shouldn't). The gun lobby has used the D.C. voting rights issue as a wedge to get at the District's gun laws—members who are inclined to vote in favor of D.C.'s right to vote won't now do so without including a roll-back of the city's gun laws.
You see where this is going, right? Gay marriage is an issue that (a) cuts across party lines and (b) has more weight with voters across the country than D.C. voting rights. If the City Council moves on gay marriage before the D.C. voting bill is brought back up, one can expect social conservatives to try to attach legislation rolling back that law as well.
They may not succeed in banning gay marriages in the district, but they could well sink voting rights in the process.
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