Metro Weekly

D.C. Attorney General Backs BOEE on Marriage

Brief from Nickles says Jackson's lawsuit based on "irrelevant stereotypes and prejudice"

D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General filed a brief Friday, Dec. 18, responding to a lawsuit brought last month by Bishop Harry Jackson against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE).

Jackson, of Beltsville, Md.’s Hope Christian Church, along with others opposing marriage equality, filed suit to challenge the BOEE’s rejection of his group’s proposed initiative to put to D.C. voters a definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman only. The BOEE found that such wording violates the D.C. Human Rights Act’s prohibition on allowing the rights of minorities to be subjected to popular vote.

Jackson’s filing in D.C. Superior Court challenges the authority of the Human Rights Act, arguing that residents’ right to ballot initiatives trumps the minority protections established by the City Council.

D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles’s brief suggests that Jackson’s suit is based on “irrelevant stereotypes and prejudice.”

Nickles also cites various court cases, including Loving v. Virginia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Virginia’s ban on interracial marriages in 1967.

”Petitioners’ claim that their proposed initiative does not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation must be rejected for the same reasons the Supreme Court rejected the State’s arguments in Loving v. Virginia,” Nickles stated in a Dec. 21 release announcing the filing.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Judith Macaluso at the D.C. Superior Court.

Notably, Nickles’s brief was filed on the same day that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty signed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, bringing marriage equality to the District. That law is now subject to 30 legislative days of congressional oversight.