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Challenge to DC marriage redefinition law intensifies with new appeal

ADF, Stand4MarriageDC stand firm for voters’ right, desire to have say on law passed without voter input

WASHINGTON — Alliance Defense Fund and Stand4MarriageDC attorneys appealed a court order Monday that denied their motion to keep a D.C. marriage redefinition law from going into effect on the projected date of March 3. The attorneys represent Bishop Harry Jackson and other registered voters who are seeking to give the 59 percent of voters in the district who say they want to vote on the D.C. Council’s new law that changes the legal definition of marriage the opportunity to do so.

“The people have a right to have the final say on any law regarding marriage passed by the D.C. Council. The D.C. Charter makes that right clear, and officials should not be ignoring the right of the people to vote for or against the new definition of marriage fabricated by the council,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “We are appealing because the district’s marriage redefinition law shouldn’t go into effect until voters have the opportunity to vote on a critical matter that affects everyone in the district.”

Jackson and seven other registered voters filed a referendum on Jan. 6 with the Board of Elections and Ethics to give all of the district’s voters the opportunity to vote for or against the council’s proposal to redefine marriage in the district’s statutes. On Feb. 4, the board rejected the proposed referendum, prompting ADF and Stand4MarriageDC attorneys to appeal the board’s decision to the D.C. Superior Court, where they filed a motion to keep the law from taking effect. Saturday the court issued an order denying the motion.

On Dec. 15, 2009, the D.C. Council voted 11-2 for final approval of Bill 18-0482, which was signed two days later as the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009” by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. It is undergoing review by Congress and is projected to become law on March 3 unless Congress disapproves it or the appellate court grants the motion to stop it from going into effect.

A Jan. 28 Washington Post poll showed that 59 percent of adult D.C. residents believe voters should be allowed to vote “yes” or “no” on the D.C. Council’s marriage redefinition law. attorney Cleta Mitchell is serving as co-counsel in the lawsuit, Jackson v. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics, which is now being appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

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.