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4 Mar 2010

Gay marriage law takes effect in Washington

The US capital of Washington DC became the sixth US jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriage after the Supreme Court threw out a last-minute legal challenge. Update: Buenos Aires sees second same-sex marriage, Mexico's capital city hands out its first same-sex marriage licenses

Washington DC is the sixth jurisdiction after Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont to issue same-sex licences.

Cuc Vu, left, and Gwen Migita were the third couple to apply for a same-sex marriage license in the District of Columbia on Wednesday, Mar 3.

According to The Washington Post, 151 couples lined up to apply for marriage licenses on the fourth floor of the D.C. Superior Court by the end of Wednesday. The earliest many couples will be able to marry is Tuesday, due to a processing period of three business days for all licence applicants. 

"Advocates employed an incremental strategy, quietly stacking up rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples to avoid soliciting an outcry from Congress. When the time was right, moving from domestic partnerships to marriage would not be a "big leap, just the next logical step," said Richard J. Rosendall, a former president of Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

"The go-slow approach was shaped by experience. For a decade, Congress blocked funding to implement the city's domestic partnership law passed in 1992, allowing it to take effect in 2002. Likewise for the sodomy ban, repealed by the council in 1981 but overturned by Congress and not ended until 1993," the Post reported.

While proponents of same-sex marriage are celebrating the culmination of a more than three-decade fight, some other groups such as the Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. have sprung into action. On Monday, the organisation informed its employees that henceforth, new hires and yet unwed employees would not be entitled to spousal health benefits - no matter if they were in a same-sex or opposite sex marriage.

In the memo, Catholic Charities president and CEO Edward Orzechowski explained that, "As of March 2 ... the new plan will provide the same level of coverage for employees and their dependents that you now have, with one exception: spouses not in the plan as of March 1, will not be eligible for coverage in the future ... We sincerely regret that we have to make this change, but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith."

Last month, the same organisation withdrew its foster care service rather than "risk" having its kids go into homes with same-sex couples.

Update (Mar 5, 2010): 

On the same day (Mar 4), two men were married in Buenos Aires - Argentina's second same-sex marriage, after a judge approved the union ahead of possible legislation in Argentina. The US-based Catholic News Agency noted that "their ceremony took place Wednesday despite requests from the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and the Corporation of Catholic Lawyers that the city's mayor appeal the decision allowing the 'marriage.'"

On Thursday, a law allowing same-sex weddings took effect in Mexico City, making the huge and overwhelmingly Catholic megalopolis the first territory anywhere in Latin America to put same-sex couples on the same standing as heterosexuals. The law, passed in December and effective Thursday, applies only to the capital, a city of 10 million. 

The Wall Street Journal online reports: "The changes were hailed by gay-rights advocates as a major event in Latin America. But they also set a new culture war afoot in Mexico, one of the region's most conservative countries. The new marriage and adoption laws have drawn fire from many of Mexico's top names, from conservative President Felipe Calderón, who supports a constitutional challenge to the law, to the Mexican Catholic Cardinal Norberto Rivera, who recently called the law a 'violation against children' that 'respects neither culture nor nationality.'"

United States

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-03-04 17:52  
i wish sumone will merry@marry me..
2. 2010-03-04 21:08  
Great. The lesson here is very clear: as the article says, "...Advocates employed an incremental strategy, quietly stacking up rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples to avoid soliciting an outcry from Congress..."

This is what I have been writing in too, all the time. Instead of taking a confrontational "all or nothing" attitude and demanding a 100% parity with the straight community in one shot, which approach is either bound to fail or create lots of unnecessary hostility, heartburn and hatred, take it step by step; baby steps if need be. The straight community will come across as petty and churlish if it tries to block each and every one of these little steps. And, in the end we'll get there, because even the final step to gay marriage with all equal rights "will not be a big leap but just the next logical step."
3. 2010-03-04 21:09  
"...it is necessary [to stop spouse benefits] to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith."

Reminds me of the Catholic adoption agencies in the UK (funded by the state).The bishops tried to close them down on orders from the Vatican, rather than abide by equality legislation. But the staff of 9 out of 12 of them chose to continue their services, by becoming independent of the Church.

Both are cases of mean-minded ideological actions by the church, in which they then try to blame someone else. A bit like blaming a heretic for forcing the church to burn him, in previous centuries.

This is another case where the present Pope is putting his dogma before fairness and human compassion, which upsets a lot of Catholics.
4. 2010-03-04 21:39  
well post #2, you can rightfully say "I told you so" to all the critics who doubted or rebuffed your step-by-step strategy.

It does seem to be working in the USA.

It would be nice to live long enough to see homosexuality become "normalized" at least in my mother country (USA), although the real dream is that every country in the world will eventually drop the whole queer-hating project and get on with really important stuff.
5. 2010-03-05 01:40  
I just read that gay weddings also commenced in Mexico City today, and that 70 judges responsible for conducting them have been through sensitivity training, to prevent discrimination.
Comment edited on 2010-03-05 01:41:00
6. 2010-03-05 03:55  
God bless the world yet again...

hmmm...hope is in my heart now
7. 2010-03-05 07:42  
Juvenile pettiness from the Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. for not getting their way on this issue (aka, taking the ball home with them). Unfortunately this will lead to more people moving away from religion (in employment) than embracing it. Mexico City also approved same-sex marriage today which affects a MUCH greater population than DC in a conservative, Catholic nation without a hitch today. Can Fridae run an article about that please?
8. 2010-03-05 16:40  
WoOoooO!! North Americcccccccccccca! hahahaha This is pretty awesome. =D
9. 2010-03-05 19:17  
#7 -- I don't understand the part about "lead[ing] to more people moving away from religion than embracing it." To me, that's a good thing. The more people think for themselves and reject organized religion on the whole, the better off the world will be.

That said, I totally agree with the rest of your post. I'm American, and while I'm glad to see that my nation's capital has legalized same-sex marriage, there should absolutely be a story on here about Mexico City. That is huge news and sets a major precedent for not only that nation, but for all of Latin America.
10. 2010-03-05 20:56  
Breaking news:

Can either say karma, or God moves in mysterious ways.
Comment edited on 2010-03-05 20:57:51
11. 2010-03-06 19:18  
Yawn... In Canada we have already legalized same-sex marriage nationwide since July 20, 2005.
12. 2010-03-08 02:35  
progress, progress, progress.......slow but sure, never stop, never give up.
13. 2010-03-10 08:51  
Congrats Mexico city!
As for USA, i sympathise with you guys. lt's been a long fight and will probably be even another while till the law becomes federal.
Hang in there guys.
14. 2010-06-03 01:14  
i wanna get marry too!!!!!anybody????

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