Equality in the District
As we wait for Mayor Gray to transmit his budget proposal to the District Council, I thought it would be a good week to reflect on some things our government is good at versus some areas that need improvement.
One area our government is pretty good at is ensuring civil rights for all our citizens. Our Human Rights Act is one of the most expansive in the country. In addition, we have the distinction of being one of the first jurisdictions to legalize marriage equality. I remember clearly the introduction of our marriage equality bill, just a few short years ago. I knew it was a historic moment. Due to the volume of legislation we introduce, members often delegate signature authority to a chief of staff or principal legislative staffer. With marriage equality, though, this was the kind of bill I was proud to personally sign.
As with so many areas, however, we can always improve. I watched with interest a recent hearing on our Marriage Officiant Amendment Act. This bill, which I coauthored, provides residents of the District with the ability to select a marriage officiant of their choosing, without having to either attempt to navigate the courthouse, wedding party in tow, or else work through a religious organization. I think it is preferable for couples to be able to select a person of importance in their lives to perform their ceremony, rather than a person they may not know well or at all.
Of course, there is more work to be done on the federal level and around the country. On March 26 and March 27, the Supreme Court will hear arguments relating to marriage equality -- specifically, the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as California’s Proposition 8. To show community engagement on these historic issues, a rally in support of freedom and equality will be held by United for Marriage beginning at 8:30 a.m. on March 26, meeting outside the Supreme Court at First and East Capitol Streets, NE. I hope to see you there.
Of course, my office is always available to help my constituents with these and any other D.C. issues.★