Washington DC has voted to recognise gay marriages that are conducted in other US states. But because Washington DC is a city and not a state it requires the approval of Congress before the new law can be implemented,

Washington DC’s council voted 12 to one in favour of the measure at a meeting this evening.

It will recognise gay marriages that are conducted within Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Gay marriages have been banned in California following the voter initiated Proposition 8 during the Presidential election.

Openly gay councillor, David A Catania told the council: “”This issue is whether or not our colleagues on a personal level view me and [fellow gay councillor] Jim Graham as your equals.

“If we are permitted the same rights and responsibilities and obligations as our colleagues. So this is personal. This is acknowledging our families as much as we acknowledge you.”

Former mayor, Marion Barry, who up to now has been an advocate of gay rights was the only member to vote against the new law. He said: “I understand this is personal to you and Mr Graham.

“But, I resent Mr Catania saying either you are a bigot or against bigotry as though this particular legislation represents all of that.”

After the meeting he told reporters: “All hell is going to break lose. We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”

He defended the voting against the measure as being in the best interests of his constituents: “What you’ve got to understand is 98 percent of my constituents are black and we don’t have but a handful of openly gay residents.

“Secondly, at least 70 percent of those who express themselves to me about this are opposed to anything dealing with this issue. The ministers think it is a sin, and I have to be sensitive to that.”

The law will be passed to the city’s mayor, Adrian Fenty who is a known supporter of gay rights. But in order to come into effect, the law requires the approval of Congress and its progress there is less than certain.

A similar law has been passed by the Maine legislature this evening.

Tomorrow, the New Hampshire Legislature will vote on a bill to allow same-sex marriages.