Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
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Last week was momentous in the battle for marriage in the US. It was a little like riding a roller coaster. On Tuesday, the DC City Council finished their first of two readings of their proposed same-sex marriage law. The reading passed by a margin of 11 to 2. The council seems determined to prevent the people from voting on this issue. Their rationale is that “civil rights” is not something that should be voted on by the masses. One councilman, who represents a strong, pro-marriage ward, looked visibly shaken. He spoke with a quavering voice. Ironically Harry Thomas, Jr., son of a former city council member, stated that he would not allow anyone in his ward to be “disenfranchised.” Undoubtedly, he meant to say that he did not want anyone to experience discrimination.

Disenfranchisement, however, is exactly what is happening to the average voter in DC. The council feels that it has a right to vote on this issue, but it will not allow the citizens to vote. They also chafe at the fact that the District does not have a genuine vote on the Hill - it only has a shadow congresswoman. Sadly, there was only voice for democratic justice on the council --- Marion Barry. The former mayor correctly told the group that the city council had not gone far enough in allowing liberty and true democracy to have their way. As a result of the fact the city is “deeply divided,” he announced that he would be working for a popular vote on the issue.

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History and national polls suggest that a popular vote in DC could land conjugal marriage between a man and a woman in the “win column.” Therefore, same-sex marriage proponents in the city will put up every obstacle they can to prevent a popular vote. Importantly, even if a same-sex marriage law is passed, it can be overturned. Just like the powerful grassroots battles in Maine and California, outraged DC citizens can turn the marriage picture around.

Yellow journalism has replaced objective reporting in many corners of the region. Some writers have been bold enough to suggest that 80% of white voters support same-sex marriage in DC. If true, such a number would place DC politically somewhere left of San Francisco. (To the contrary, private polling that I have seen confirms Marion Barry’s “gut feel” about the issue.) Regardless of which poll is cited, same-sex marriage advocates are not about to risk a 32nd defeat at the hands of an unpredictable electorate.

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Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.