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DC Council gives final approval to same-sex marriage bill

[JURIST] The Council of the District of Columbia [official website] on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill that would allow same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive] to be performed in Washington, DC. The Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 [text, PDF] passed with a vote of 11-2, despite opposition from the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington [organization website], which has pledged to end social services [JURIST report] if the bill becomes law. The bill will now go before DC Mayor Adrian Fenty [official profile], who has promised to sign it [Washington Post report], after which the US Congress would have 30 legislative days to veto it under the Home Rule Act [text, PDF]. If Congress fails to act, the bill will then become law at the expiration of that time. Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander [official profiles] cast the dissenting votes.

Last month, the District of Columbia Board of Election and Ethics [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the Jury and Marriage Act (JAMA) [text, PDF], which allows DC to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions, could not be challenged by a ballot initiative because overturning the law would violate the DC Human Rights Act [text]. JAMA took effect [JURIST report] in July after congressional inaction. If the marriage bill becomes law, DC will become the sixth US jurisdiction to recognize marriage between same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in four states in the US - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont - and will be legal in New Hampshire [JURIST reports] starting January 1.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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