(CN) – A judge in Washington, D.C., has rejected same-sex marriage opponents’ bid to place an initiative on the ballot that would define marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso ruled that the proposed ballot initiative violates D.C.’s Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The district passed an amendment in May 2009 that recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states.
A group of gay-marriage opponents, led by Maryland Bishop Harry Jackson, asked the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to approve a referendum on whether the district should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The board refused to accept the measure, saying it violated the Human Rights Act. The group next sought a court order compelling the board to accept the referendum. That, too, failed.
When the amendment recognizing same-sex marriages went into effect in July 2009, opponents proposed an initiative to amend D.C. laws to recognize only marriages between a man and a woman.
The board rejected the initiative, again on discrimination grounds, and the Superior Court affirmed.
“If enacted, the initiative would deprive only same-sex individuals of the legal status, rights and privileges they enjoy as married persons,” Judge Macaluso wrote.
She determined that the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Dean v. District of Columbia, which held that the Human Rights Act was not applicable to marriage, is no longer controlling.
“Since 1995, the council has changed the landscape Dean surveyed,” Macaluso wrote. “[A]ll of the provisions upon which Dean relied have been repealed or amended to allow for same-sex marriages.”
Last month, the city passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage. The bill is currently up for review by Congress and, if approved, will enable same-sex couples to be married in D.C. starting in March.