The Washington D.C. city council announced over the weekend it is considering expanding rights for gay and lesbian couples, but that doesn’t include legalising equal marriage rights.

D.C. council member Jim Graham told the Washington Post that he is: “seriously considering” introducing a bill that would legalise marriage for gay and lesbian couples who live in the district.

Analysts believe it could be a difficult piece of legislation to push through. The Federal government has final say over D.C. and would probably veto such a measure.

“Not doing what you believe in is a very uneasy feeling,” Mr Graham, one of two openly gay council members said yesterday.

David A. Catania, who is the other gay council member and who quit the Republican Party over its opposition to gay equality, told the newspaper: “If the district trots out too far, we become a cause celebre for Congress to whip on.”

A better strategy, he said, is to: “try to make sustainable advances instead of ideal advances.”

Meanwhile, the new plan being considered by the council would expand tax and inheritance benefits. It gives partners powers of attorney, the ability to sue for negligence, and immunity from testifying against one another.

The bill would also legalise the equivalent of prenuptial agreements and alimony-like obligations if a break-up occurs.

Full legal recognition for gay couples was introduced across Britain last month.