Washington DC councilman David Catania has said he will introduce a bill to give gay couples in the district the right to marry.

The bill has nine co-sponsors. It will be introduced on Tuesday.

Titled ‘The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009′, the bill is expected to pass the 13-member city council.

City mayor Adrian Fenty supports the move, although the bill must be approved by Congress.

DC already recognises gay marriages performed in other states where the practice is legal, which are Vermont, Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. It is legal in Maine but is on hold due to opponents getting it on the November ballot.

It means that same-sex couples in the district who are married can now receive more than 200 rights, benefits, and obligations associated with marriage under DC law.

However, as with states in which gay marriage is legal, couples will not be able to enjoy many of the 1,100 federal rights and benefits given to straight married couples, due to the Defence of Marriage Act.