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Gay marriage in D.C. next year?

Yes, says openly gay D.C. city council member David Catania, a former Republican who holds an at-large seat. According to a website called DCist, Catania is confident that the city council will support the measure when it convenes in January and that the mayor will approve it.

Catania knows his city's politics much better than I, but I wonder whether his confidence is fully justified. Given the strong opposition to same-sex marriage among blacks, as demonstrated most recently in their 70% support for Prop 8, the city council in an overwhelmingly black city might get cold feet as the vote nears. Another open question is whether, even with an enlarged Democratic majority, Congress would overrule the city's recognition of same-sex marriages.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. And now, D.C.:
  2. Gay marriage in D.C. next year?
George Lyon (mail):
DC Council is extremely liberal and "politically correct." I think Catania is correct.
11.18.2008 3:36pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
60 percent black population times 70 percent hostility towards gays = 42 percent votes against as a starting position. If even only 30 percent of the remaining populace isn't open to this idea, it goes down in flames.

How would this democrat controlled congress push for gay rights without the support of the blue dogs? The leadership is naturally as far left as possible, but many of the rank and file are conservative on social issues.
11.18.2008 3:39pm
KeithK (mail):
Would DOMA preclude DC from legalizing SSM? The DC city government is a creation of federal law so it might be subject to the restriction. Or would the home rule provisions exempt them from DOMA. My quick scan of the wiki page leads me to think DC couldn't legally authorize SSm but then it was a very quick reading and IANAL.
11.18.2008 4:17pm
Gay Conservative in DC:
My prediction, FWIW, is that the DC City Council will pass for SSM and Congress will not disapprove the legislation. Depending upon how SSM is enacted, there will likely be an initiative to abolish SSM in DC.

The people's vote in favor or opposed to SSM will be very, very close. By the time any initiative takes place, blacks will make up between 50-55 percent of the population. The working class blacks will be overwhelmingly against SSM; the professional blacks will be split. The Latinos who bother to vote will also be overwhelmingly against. The young Obamaniacs will vote in favor of SSM overwhelmingly. The older and elderly white liberals also will be split - I think slightly more against SSM than in favor. Republicans in DC are mostly liberal and will vote in favor of SSM. The Conservatives would be against SSM, but they are statistically insignificant.

Alas, I fear, the controversy will be an explosive, and likely deadly, one in light of the fact that gays are in the vanguard of gentrification in DC which is pricing/chasing blacks out of their old neighborhoods. Unlike California where South Central LA and West Hollywood types don't interact on the ground much, gays and blacks share the same neighborhoods...the greatest of unease. There have also been a rash of gay bashings in the District lately as well as a very sick murder mystery scandal involving a power gay couple (married?) that will also add fuel to the fire - not to mention vindictive boycotts and threats against people who donate $$$ on one side or the other. There is no good time for such a fight, but in a deteriorating economic climate, the entire controversy will seriously damage the tranquilitas ordinis of the District.
11.18.2008 4:30pm
wfjag:

Yes, says openly gay D.C. city council member David Catania, a former Republican


How would this democrat controlled congress push for gay rights without the support of the blue dogs?

You're sure that Catania is a "former" Republican? This is an all around loser issue for the Dems. Even assuming that Jim's math is correct, that's a very large block of votes to aleinate. African-Americans will stay with the Dems as long as Obama is in the White House, but may desert after that. White Southerners were for generations the backbone of the "Solid South" for Democrats, but finally split with the Dems over social issues (mostly integration). Integration isn't an important issue with Southern Whites anymore, but preserving traditional families is. So, the D.C. Counsel pushing this issue opens the opportunity for an alliance between Southern Whites and African Americans. (Stranger alliances have happened. The Civil Rights legislation was enacted by LBJ -- as Sen. Majority Leader and later as President -- working with Northern Liberal Dems. and Mid-West Conservative Republicans over the objections of White, Southern Dems (like LBJ). Everett Dirkson and LBJ were strange bedfellows).

The issue is even worse for Democrats when legislation is introduced into Congress to over-rule to D.C. Counsel. The Dem. Congressional leadership will try to block the vote -- giving Republicans a campaign issue that brings a lot of emotions with it. Blue Dog Dems will want to vote to over-rule the D.C. Counsel, since while African-Americans will vote for Obama, they won't necessarily vote for some White person for Congress because he/she is a Dem. African-Americans have been grumbling for some time about being taken for granted by the Dem. Party. But, if Blue Dog Dems over-rule the D.C. Counsel, the Move-On wing of the Dem Party will go ballistic -- and that wing is very organized and raised lots of money in 2006 and 2008. However, if Congress (both Houses controlled by the Dems) doesn't over-rule the D.C. Counsel, then -- well, there's the proof Republicans need that the Dems want to "change America" and substitute San Fran Nan's values for American values.

As I understand the election in California, Prop 8 was going no where, till someone had the bright idea to take elementary age school kids to same-sex weddings, changing the dynamic of the campaign from being about openness and acceptance to being about indoctrination. Gay marriages in the nation's capitol could do the same nationally.
11.18.2008 4:39pm
hazemyth:
I think that this is merely a mistake but... Has someone suggested that inviting children (relatives? the children of friends?) to a wedding amounts to indoctrination? The way you've phrased your last paragraph seems to imply some agreement with that position... or at least that you hold the wedding planners at fault for inviting such a ridiculous vilification with their otherwise banal act. That's unfair... but, as I said, maybe it's just a mistake of phrasing.
11.18.2008 5:50pm
Cornellian (mail):
African-Americans will stay with the Dems as long as Obama is in the White House, but may desert after that.

Dream on. Saying African Americans will vote for Republicans because of same-sex marriage is equivalent to saying Hispanics will vote for Tom Tancredo because they're generally pro-life.
11.18.2008 5:50pm
wfjag:
hazemyth: In case you missed it -- the school age children were on a field trip from their elementary school -- or, that was the incident that seemed to give a push to the Pro Prop 8 forces. Prior to that, the polls indicated that Prop 8 was cruising to an easy defeat. After that, Prop 8 started picking up a lot support. I didn't make up the term "indoctrination." It started appearing in stories about Prop 8.


Saying African Americans will vote for Republicans because of same-sex marriage . . .

It's apparent that White liberals at Cornell still take African-Americans for granted. Glad to see that things ain't changed since I was there.
11.18.2008 6:22pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
hazemyth,

wfjag is referring to a field trip a first-grade class took to its teacher's (lesbian) wedding. IIRC, all but two children in the class got their parents' permission to attend, and those two children were excused. All the same, the incident fueled suspicions that kids were going to be "indoctrinated" about SSM through the public school system.
11.18.2008 6:24pm
David Schraub (mail) (www):
Overlooked in all of this is the possibility that Black people, like White people, aren't the same everywhere, and just as the level of White support for gay marriage likely varies considerably in Maryland compared to Alabama, Black support for gay marriage may well be different in D.C. versus California.
11.18.2008 6:32pm
Dave N (mail):
Frankly, no matter how liberal it might be, I would rather have the D.C. City Council decide this than a judge making up rights out of the whole cloth.
11.18.2008 7:08pm
Smokey:
And I'd rather see a vote of the affected citizens that either.
11.18.2008 8:02pm
Smokey:
[Than either. But you knew that.]
11.18.2008 8:04pm
Aleks:
Re: It's apparent that White liberals at Cornell still take African-Americans for granted.

At the far extreme I can see African Americans being sufficiently peeved at the Dems (though not on this issue) that they might sit out an election, or even run Third party candidates where there are large numbesr of AA voters. But unless the GOP undergoes a makeover the like of which would qualify as a divine miracle I cannot see African Americans in large numbers voting Republican.
11.18.2008 8:26pm
Brian K (mail):
And I'd rather see a vote of the affected citizens tha[n] either.

since that is only gays...it should pass with flying colors
11.18.2008 9:03pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
If they can massage "Bitch set me up!" into a campaign slogan, they've got a real shot.
11.18.2008 10:04pm
Cbizaw:
I live in D.C., have lived in the metro area for over 15 yrs (grew up here.) I don't like this in 2009, but 2010 sounds nice. The way the legislative process works here, and the likelihood for a Home Rule battle.. it just looks like an unproductive thorny mess. This early, it is a football for the GOP.

D.C. does have a large black population, but this wouldn't be decided in a popular vote - city council members would push it. Most black neighborhoods here are so screwed up or recovering from decades of negligent management, that 'social issues' don't play here - bullets and bread are on peoples' minds. Like another commenter noted, this isn't stagnant spread out L.A. The city is less than 10 square miles. Embassies can (could) be found a block from crack houses, and every 4-8 yrs the turns come hard and quick and things change - people/groups don't live in isolation here. The only thing that could mobilize the black community against its council members, would be historical tensions between black neighborhoods and homosexuals (the first line in the march of gentrification.)

Social issues don't play in this city. However, if the GOP made it a national football, all bets are off. Residents live or live-around politics to the point of nausea, and a social issue fracas would turn everyone off. Depending how it played in the media it could touch off all sorts of Home Rule issues, and general disdain for the "hometown" institution. This would really be all about how the media feeds and spins it, but expect a Home Rule showdown that would make everyone sick. All American's feel a sense of 'ownership' in D.C. (literally &figuratively), which is why a GOP media game could have legs... Home Rule issues and the transitory nature of (and the overwhelming influence of 'foreign' power in) the city can turn any issue into a vehement anti-Federal &anti-outsider battle.

Here most residents (and their home institutions) are frequently made to feel like parasites on their own city - if Catania and the GOP both prize the symbolic nature of a D.C. SMM victory, expect a nasty unproductive mess, that wont benefit the city and may just end up being Obama's "Gays in the Military" 100-days damper.

Although I am all for SSM, Catania pushing this in 2009 would be a bunk idea. If Obama can get Congress moving, and inspiring the media to rediscover its self-respect a bit, then its more than workable in 2010 (esp w/ a strong Obama relaxing deep racial tension in the city, and creating a lot more good will and open-mindedness in the poorer black community.)
11.18.2008 11:01pm
AK (mail):
African-Americans will stay with the Dems as long as Obama is in the White House, but may desert after that.

Hoo boy, I needed a laugh. Thanks!

The Democrats could add a "Lynch All The Darkies" plank to their platform and they'd still get >90% of the black vote every time.
11.19.2008 12:01am
MarkField (mail):

The Democrats could add a "Lynch All The Darkies" plank to their platform and they'd still get >90% of the black vote every time.


The Dems actually had such a plank -- well, nearly so anyway -- for many years. Blacks voted solidly Republican as a result.
11.19.2008 12:07am
Greg Q (mail) (www):
Wow, you you some plac could actually get SSM in a legitimate manner? that would be a wonderful change.
11.19.2008 12:29am
Stephen Clark (mail):
Yikes! As part-time D.C. resident, I have to say that this exclusively racial analysis of D.C. makes me extremely uncomfortable. The extrapolation from a not-very-reliable California exit poll on Prop. 8 to the very different context of D.C. is a huge stretch.

A large majority of D.C. Councilmembers are on record in favor of same-sex marriage, including some members from predominantly African American wards, and a third of the Council is elected at-large. In the recent campaign for at-large seats, candidates fell over each other to see who could tout a stronger commitment to same-sex marriage, and two years ago the new Mayor effectively exploited a opponent's vague, lukewarm position on the issue to take the gay vote from her without any significant loss of African American support in the process.

Councilmember Marion Barry says he treats the issue the same as abortion: personally opposed, but the choice should be left to the individual. That he has taken that position is enormously influential.

The Council and Mayor have been taking their queues from the mainline gay-rights groups, who have deliberately opted to wait for favorable conditions in Congress, which has the power to override D.C. law. The Council and Mayor haven't been a roadblock; they've been deferring to the gay community on timing.

Let's please stop the hyper-racialized analyses of Prop. 8, and let's definitely not universalize them.
11.19.2008 3:40am
Stephen Clark (mail):
P.S. The excessive focus on African American voters in D.C. also ignores other demographic factors too. Unlike other places, D.C. doesn't have the big white ethnic groups that are more likely to adhere to Catholic directives, nor does D.C. have any significant concentration of white evangelicals. It has no equivalent of the Central Valley in California, and it has no San Diego or Orange County. Any discussion of race should note the irony that racism in the form of "white flight" means that lots of white voters who might have opposed a same-sex marriage bill are now living (or their children and grandchildren are now living) in Virginia. :) The whites that remain or have returned are overwhelmingly liberal on social issues.
11.19.2008 3:58am
Phil Marlowe:

Given the strong opposition to same-sex marriage among blacks, as demonstrated most recently in their 70% support for Prop 8


Math, please. Younger blacks were 51-49 against Prop 8 (sure, fewer than whites, but. This is an age issue, not a race issue. The bigots will die. And this denial of rights will die with them.

I don't think Focus on the family has much more spare change to spare for another fight? Maybe the Morons do, still. But who will do their bidding in DC? Maybe Richard Roberts can spend some of his severance pay and pay for no work for the next 2 years on furthering the work of the lord?
11.19.2008 4:42am
Andy Freeman (mail):
< the entire controversy will seriously damage the tranquilitas ordinis of the District

Now that's sarcasm.
11.19.2008 10:15am
AxelDC (mail):
DC has a strong gay community and a full 16% of DC voters are gay. The vast majority of non-gay voters support gay rights. Only in a few wards would you get a councilor like Vincent Orange who dares to attack gays. He tried to run for Mayor and his campaign got nowhere outside his own ward.

The only thing blocking gay marriage in DC is Congress. If Obama and the Democrats block home rule on such a critical issue to their base, then we may as well have elected McCain President.
11.19.2008 11:14am