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March 02, 2010

True Radicals Defeated as Marriage Equality Reaches D.C.

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

For Release:
Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Contact: Rick Rosendall

True Radicals Defeated as Marriage Equality Reaches D.C.

The following statement is by Mitch Wood, President of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance:

"The achievement of civil marriage equality in the District of Columbia is the fruit of decades of public advocacy and organizing by gay citizens and our numerous allies. Because our opponents have spread many falsehoods in an effort to divide our city, we must set the record straight — even as we count down the hours until the Marriage Bureau at D.C. Superior Court opens for business on March 3.

"Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of a suburban Maryland church and a leading opponent of the bill, has repeatedly cried 'Let the people vote!' which ignores the fact that Washingtonians have consistently elected gay-affirming candidates for D.C. Council and Mayor and rejected those who ran anti-gay campaigns. (We note, for example, the resounding defeat in 2006 of mayoral candidate Vincent Orange after he called his rivals unfit for office because of their support for marriage equality.) The fact is that Mayor Fenty and every Council member who voted with us has faced the voters at least once since publicly pledging support for same-sex marriage rights.

"The United States has a representative form of government. Jackson's attempt to usurp the D.C. Council's authority to revise the marriage law is a ruse to launch a divisive campaign funded by right-wing groups seeking to polarize Washingtonians of different backgrounds. Groups like Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the National Organization for Marriage, which funded Jackson's group Stand for Marriage DC, ignore the real problems of joblessness, home foreclosures, crime, lack of health insurance, and educational inequities, and rather than seek solutions to serve the common good, they dangerously stoke social discord that helps no one.

"Bishop Jackson dishonors those who gave their lives fighting for voting rights when he equates the voting franchise with his campaign to deny other people's rights to due process. He adds insult to injury by urging Congress and the courts to overturn legislation properly enacted by the people's duly elected representatives. If Jackson truly cares about D.C. voting rights, he should join Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in working for full voting representation for the District in Congress.

"Our opponents have vainly sought to divide our city along lines of race, religion, and class. By contrast, people of every color, creed, and walk of life have worked together to provide equal protection for all of our families. Contrary to Jackson's rhetoric, African Americans have played leading roles in every facet of D.C.'s marriage equality effort. Contrary to Jackson's rhetoric, people of all colors and residents from all parts of our city testified in support of this landmark bill that fulfills our city's motto, 'Justitia Omnibus (Justice for All).' Contrary to Jackson's rhetoric, the group DC Clergy United for Marriage Equality brought together leaders of every faith who have advocated equality for their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. No minister will be forced by this law to conduct or condone marriages against their beliefs; but these gay-affirming clergy remind us that many of our city's religious leaders want the right to do so. This new law protects both choices.

"As we celebrate this joyous moment, we are inspired by the words of Rep. John Lewis of Georgia: 'We hurt our fellow citizens and our community when we deny gay people civil marriage and its protections and responsibilities. Rather than divide and discriminate, let us come together and create one nation. We are all one people. We all live in the American house. We are all the American family. Let us recognize that the gay people living in our house share the same hopes, troubles, and dreams. It's time we treated them as equals, as family.'

"We know that more battles lie ahead, and we and our allies are preparing for them. But this is a moment for celebration. This victory shows what we can achieve when we are prepared, united, and disciplined. We are proud of our courageous public servants who stand with us in victory today, and we are grateful for the good people of Washington whom our opponents so badly underestimated. We look forward to welcoming our city's visitors to the new national capital of marriage equality!"

# # #

Founded in 1971, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington (GLAA) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit political organization that defends the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders in the Nation's Capital. GLAA lobbies the DC Council, monitors government agencies, educates and rates local candidates, and works in coalitions to defend the safety, health, and equal rights of gay families. GLAA remains the nation's oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization.


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