D.C. Law Recognizing Out-of-Jurisdiction Marriages By Same-Sex Couples Takes Effect
D.C. Joins Other Jurisdictions Across the Nation on the Historic Road to Marriage Equality
WASHINGTON –The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following statement after a new D.C. law recognizing marriages by same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions became effective today.
“Today, same-sex couples in D.C. who have married elsewhere, or who choose to marry in one of the growing number of jurisdictions that provide marriage equality, will have their relationships fully recognized,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This law is an important and historic step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal rights under D.C. law for same-sex couples. Congratulations to the D.C. Council, Mayor Fenty and the many advocates of equality in our community who have worked hard for, and continue to pursue, marriage equality in D.C.”
On May 5, 2009, the D.C. Council overwhelmingly passed legislation that expressly recognizes marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, including foreign countries. The bill was signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty the next day and transmitted to Congress for review. Opponents of marriage equality attempted to stop the legislation from taking effect by proposing a referendum. However, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics ruled last month that the proposed referendum would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act and therefore was not a proper subject matter for the referendum process. A D.C. Superior Court judge upheld this ruling and denied opponents’ request for a preliminary injunction to stay the legislation. The law took effect today, at the conclusion of the 30 day Congressional review period.
Under the new law, a same-sex couple living in D.C. who is legally married elsewhere – for example, in Massachusetts, Connecticut or Canada – will be recognized as married in D.C. and will receive the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage under D.C. law. D.C. law continues to provide for domestic partnerships for same-sex and different-sex couples. Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in D.C. itself, although their marriages from other jurisdictions are now recognized.
Six states recognized marriage for same-sex couples: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont (effective September 1, 2009), Maine (scheduled to become effective September 2009, pending possible referendum) and New Hampshire (effective January 1, 2010). Outside the United States, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden recognize marriage for same-sex couples.
New York recognizes marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction, and the legislature is considering legislation that would permit same-sex couples to marry in New York. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality for same-sex couples. The 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed in California before the passage of Proposition 8 remain valid.
Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and responsibilities anywhere in the United States. To learn more about state by state legislation, visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.