- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gay-marriage advocates scored major victories in the District and Vermont on Tuesday, with the passage of legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Vermont and the approval of a bill that would see those marriages recognized in the nation's capital.

The developments came just days after the Iowa Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage on Friday, ruling that a state law restricting marriage to a union of a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution.

If signed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the D.C. bill would allow same-sex couples in the city to marry in states such as Iowa and Vermont and then return to the District and have that marriage recognized.

“It is the next logical step in the extension of marriage equality,” said council member David Catania, an at-large independent who said he plans this year to introduce legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in the District. “It is simply a matter of time.”

D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles said both he and Mr. Fenty support the measure, which will come up for a final vote next month. Mr. Fenty said in a statement that he looks forward to signing the bill.

“The mayor will sign,” Mr. Nickles said. The bill “requires that we accord the same benefits to couples whose same-sex marriage has been recognized and performed in other jurisdictions.”

Gay marriage is legal in Connecticut, Massachusetts and now in Iowa and Vermont.

Vermont lawmakers Tuesday voted to override a veto by Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, and allow same-sex marriages. House lawmakers voted 100-49 to override the veto, and the Senate voted 23-5 to do the same. The action made the state the fourth to legalize gay marriage and the first to legalize it by legislative action.

Mr. Douglas on Monday issued a veto message saying the bill would not improve conditions for same-sex couples because it still would not provide them rights under federal and other states' laws.

The Associated Press reported that the announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays.

Among the celebrants in the lobby were former state Rep. Robert Dostis and his longtime partner, Chuck Kletecka.

“It's been a very long battle. It's been almost 20 years to get to this point,” Mr. Dostis said. “I think finally, most people in Vermont understand that we're a couple like any other couple.”

The District's approval came when council members voted 12-0 in favor of an amendment to a bill introduced by Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, that says the city will recognize “a marriage legally entered into in another jurisdiction between two persons of the same sex that is recognized as valid in that jurisdiction” if the union is not expressly prohibited by sections of D.C. law.

City code prohibits some marriages, including those that take place between people younger than 16, those that involve fraud and those that include a mentally ill person. Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, was absent from the vote but has signed on to the measure.

Mr. Catania said he expects a bill to be introduced that would legalize same-sex marriage in the District in the spring or summer. He said he expects no opposition from Mr. Fenty on the full marriage bill.

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