Uproar in DC as Same-Sex Marriage Gains Washington Post
Posted on May 6, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
After the vote, enraged African American ministers stormed the hallway outside the council chambers and vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill, which was sponsored by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). They caused such an uproar that security officers and D.C. police were called in to clear the hallway.
Yesterday’s action could be a precursor to a debate later this year over whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the city. “There is no turning back,” said Catania, who plans to introduce a broader gay marriage bill in a few months.
Barry, who said he supports gay rights and civil unions, warned after the vote that the District could erupt if the council does not proceed slowly on same-sex marriage.
“All hell is going to break lose,” Barry said. “We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) has said he will sign the bill recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The council’s action puts the matter before Congress, which under the Home Rule Charter has 30 days to review District legislation. The bill could present the House and Senate with their biggest test on the same-sex marriage issue since Congress approved the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. …
“I am representing my constituents,” said Barry, who later told reporters that “98 percent of my constituents are black, and we don’t have but a handful of openly gay residents.”
Civic activist Philip Pannell, who is openly gay and lives in Ward 8, called Barry’s remarks offensive. “He of all people, coming out of the civil rights movement, should understand the need to fight for the rights of all minorities to be protected,” Pannell said.
Catania and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) are the two openly gay members of the council, and Catania made it clear that he took offense at Barry’s stance.
“This issue is whether or not our colleagues, on a personal level, view me and Jim Graham as your equals,” Catania said, “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 yours.”
Barry, visibly upset, fired back that he has been a supporter of gay rights since the 1970s.
“I understand this is personal to you and Mr. Graham. I understand because I have been discriminated against,” Barry said. “. . . I resent Mr. Catania saying either you are a bigot or against bigotry, as though this particular legislation represents all of that.”
Catania replied: “Your position is bigoted. I don’t think you are.”
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