The D.C. Court of Appeals Friday denied a request by a Maryland minister for an injunction to block the city’s same-sex marriage law from taking effect March 3, ending the last potential obstacle to the start of gay nuptials the following week.
In a unanimous decision, Associate Judges Noel Kramer and Phyllis Thompson and Senior Judge John Steadman upheld a ruling last week by a D.C. Superior Court judge denying the injunction on grounds that it failed to meet the minimum requirements for such an action.
Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman ruled that Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., could not show that there was “substantial likelihood” that his underlying lawsuit seeking to overturn the same-sex marriage law through a voter referendum would succeed.
Holeman noted that a key factor in granting an injunction is whether an underlying case on which the injunction is based has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
The three-judge appeals court panel also held that Jackson and others who have joined him in requesting the injunction failed to show that allowing the marriage law to take effect would cause them “irreparable harm.”
D.C. government attorneys filed motions opposing the injunction request, arguing, among other things, that the city’s election law prohibits initiatives or referenda that would result in the denial of the rights of a minority protected under the D.C. Human Rights Act. The act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act, which allows same-sex marriages to be performed in the District, were scheduled to take effect March 3, when its review by Congress is set to conclude.
Although same-sex couples can apply for a marriage license on March 3, a mandatory waiting period of three business days for the issuance of a marriage license under existing city law prevents same-sex couples from marrying in D.C. until March 9.
At least a half-dozen same-sex couples have announced plans to go the D.C. Superior Court on the morning of March 3 to apply for a marriage license, and LGBT organizations were planning to celebrate the occasion later that day.