Metro Weekly

Nickles Hits Initiative

D.C. Attorney General Advises DCBOEE Against Anti-Marriage Measure

In a letter dated Oct. 5, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles has advised that a proposed ballot initiative to vote on defining marriage in the District as an institution between a man and a woman only is “not a proper subject for initiative under District law, as it discriminates … in contravention of the Human Rights Act.”

Nickles’ letter comes in response to a request for advisement from Kenneth McGhie, general counsel to the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The DCBOEE has scheduled a public hearing on the initiative, filed Sept. 1 by Bishop Harry Jackson and other opponents of marriage equality, for Monday, Oct. 26, at 10 a.m. in the Old Council Chambers at 441 Fourth St. NW, aka One Judiciary Square. 

In June, Jackson led a similar effort against D.C.’s new law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions. That referendum push received the same response from Nickles, and was rejected by the DCBOEE as discriminatory. 

“[T]he question the [Board] must decide is this: Does the prohibition against recognizing these same-same marriages violate the District’s longstanding policy of comit and — most especially — protection of equal rights,” Nickels posits in his letter. “This question must be categorically and emphatically answered in the affirmative.”

The DCBOEE advises that those planning to attend the hearing should confirm the date and time nearer the announced scheduling. Contact the DCBOEE by calling 202-727-2525, or visit the Board online at

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.