Metro Weekly

Catania Debuts Marriage-Equality Bill

Legislation introduced with support of 10 councilmembers

As promised, Councilmember David Catania (I-At large) today introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, seeking to bring marriage equality to the District.

“This legislation paves the way for the equal access to civil marriage in the District of Columbia by defining marriage as the legally recognized union of two people, regardless of gender,” Catania, who is gay, said in introducing his bill during the Council’s Oct. 6 legislative meeting. “If our efforts are successful, the District will join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Iowa and New Hampshire in permitting such unions.”

Joining Catania in the introduction of his bill were Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Michael Brown (I-At large), Kwame Brown (D-At large), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Phil Mendelson (D-At large), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Chairman Vincent Gray (D-At large).

Not signing onto the legislation were Councilmembers Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Marion Bary (D-Ward 8) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5).

Evans also spoke upon introduction, congratulating all who had worked to bring marriage equality to this point. Graham added a comment after Evans, saying, “As an openly gay member of this Council … it is just an incredibly historical and important moment for me to be associated with this bill and to promise you I’m going to vote ‘yes’ at every stage of its consideration.”

The bill has been referred to the Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. Mendelson, chair of that committee and the councilmember who earlier this year introduced a successful measure to have D.C. recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, has pledged to allow both sides of the marriage-equality debate ample opportunity to testify on the bill.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.