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ADF attorneys to appeal court ruling denying DC voters’ right to decide marriage

Appeal on behalf of Pastor Harry Jackson challenges DC Board of Elections decision to block democratic process
“Just Who do We Think We Are?”

WASHINGTON — On behalf of Pastor Harry Jackson and other voters, Alliance Defense Fund and Stand4MarriageDC attorneys will appeal a court decision issued Thursday that allows the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics to deprive D.C. voters the right to decide the definition of marriage in the district.

Attorneys with ADF and Stand4MarriageDC filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jackson and others against the board after it determined that a citizen initiative that would allow voters to either affirm or reject the longstanding definition of marriage as the union of one man and woman is not a proper subject for the ballot due to a law passed by the D.C. Council. The suit asserts that such reasoning is flawed.

“The people of D.C. have a right to vote on the definition of marriage, and the D.C. Charter guarantees that right,” said ADF Legal Counsel Timothy J. Tracey. “We will continue to fight for the people’s right to participate in a legitimate democratic process in the district.”

The Board of Elections rejected the Marriage Initiative of 2009 on the basis that it somehow “authorizes or would have the effect of authorizing discrimination proscribed by the HRA [District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977].”  However, ADF attorneys point out that no act unrelated to expenditures passed by the D.C. Council can preclude the right of the citizens to vote, as guaranteed by the D.C. Charter, which serves as a constitution for the district.

“The people of the district have the same right as the D.C. Council to propose legislation on any subject not related to appropriations,” said Cleta Mitchell, counsel to, the proponents of the Marriage Initiative of 2009. “This initiative is on solid legal ground, and we look forward to the reversal of this unlawful blockage of the people’s right to vote.”

ADF attorneys represent Bishop Harry Jackson, who heads the Marriage Initiative of 2009 effort, and seven other D.C. registered voters in the lawsuit, Jackson v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, which was filed with the Superior Court for the District of Columbia last November.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.