January 26, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
GOP House members seek repeal of D.C. marriage law

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Hill newspaper Tuesday that he’s certain that a group of conservative House Republicans will introduce legislation to overturn D.C.’s same-sex marriage law.

Jordan, who serves as chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said the committee would push for a vote on repeal of the D.C. marriage law in the 112th Congress. He did not give a specific date or specify whether the effort would be in the form of a freestanding bill or an amendment to the D.C. appropriations bill.

“I think the RSC will push for it, and I’m certainly strongly for it,” he told The Hill. “I don’t know if we’ve made a decision if I’ll do it or let another member do it, but I’m 100 percent for it.”

Jordan was the lead sponsor in the 111th Congress for the D.C. Defense of Marriage Act, which called for defining marriage in the District of Columbia as a union only between a man and a woman.

That measure, which received 53-co-sponsors last year, is expected to pull in significantly more co-sponsors this year under the GOP-controlled House.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) touched on the subject of congressional intervention in D.C. affairs in a news conference Wednesday but did not mention the D.C. same-sex marriage issue.

When asked to respond to critics who say Republicans advocate for state and local control everywhere but D.C., Boehner said, “This is a federal city. Under the Constitution the relationship between the federal government and the D.C. government has been a road that’s twisted in many different ways.”

He added, “But I think during the past 10 to 15 years there’s been a pretty healthy relationship between the city and the federal government.”

D.C. congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said GOP House members have introduced bills to ban same-sex marriage in the city every year for the past several years, and an effort to do so again this year would not surprise her.

But she said she was hopeful that moderate Republicans would join Democrats in blocking such a proposal in the House. She said the Democratic-controlled Senate would be expected to kill such a measure if it clears the House.

“I can tell you that I’ve had a good conversation with an important Republican who’s not interested,” she said, in discussing an expected bill or amendment to overturn D.C.’s same-sex marriage law.

“That doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” she said. “But there are Republicans here who would not like to get all mixed up with social issues. And I was very pleased with this conversation I had because it’s an important Republican operator.”

She said she could not identify the Republican because doing so would jeopardize future conversations with the lawmaker.

Clarke Cooper, executive director of the national gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans, and Robert Kabel, the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Committee, released separate statements urging Jordan not to pursue legislation to repeal the District’s marriage law.

“Just two months ago, Congressman Jordan said to me, ‘Democrats are the party of government; we are the party of principle,’” Cooper said in his statement. “Today I am calling upon him to remember the core Republican principle that respects local government and states’ rights over interference from federal lawmakers.”

Kabel released a joint letter that he and Patrick Mara, a member of the D.C. Republican Committee and a D.C. City Council candidate, sent to Jordan calling on him not to interfere in D.C. affairs.

“As someone who has knocked on thousands of doors and spoken with countless families, marriage equality is an issue that must be preserved and protected,” Mara stated in the letter.

Kabel told Jordan in the letter that Republicans “saw tremendous wins this past November because they stuck with fiscal issues that matter to many Americans.” He called on the Republican Study Committee to reconsider its decision to push for repeal of the D.C. gay marriage law and “work with us on improving our city.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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