- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The first same-sex weddings in the District of Columbia are being performed Tuesday.

The city is now the sixth jurisdiction in the county in which such marriages can be performed — joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.

More than 300 same-sex couples have applied for a license since the application process began Wednesday.

The 13-member D.C. Council voted in December in favor of the Marriage Equality Act.

Opponents of such marriages tried several ways to stop the legislation, including an unsuccessful, last-minute attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a temporary injunction.

They said D.C. residents should vote on the legislation, not the council. However, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said voters will have the right to challenge the legislation in D.C. courts and pointed out that Congress declined to stop the law from taking effect.

The D.C. Court of Appeals in late February unanimously rejected the case.

Republicans in Congress have said they lacked the votes to oppose the legislation successfully.

More than 100 couples are expected to pick-up their licenses and marry Tuesday.

Among the first were Angelisa Young, 47, and Sinjoyla Townsend, 41. They were the first couple in line Wednesday to apply for a license. On Tuesday, they were the first to marry at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in downtown Washington.

Several nondenominational services are scheduled for later today at the organization, which does advocacy work on gay, lesbian and transgender issues. Other ceremonies were planned throughout the day.

D.C. churches are exempt from having to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington does not support the marriages.

The group last week stopped adding employee spouses to its benefits plan. Catholic Charities had asked the city for an exemption, saying it would allow religious organizations to continue to serve without violating their faith.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said Tuesday the change allows the agency to continue to serve the city’s nearly 70,00 needy residents, to meet the new D.C. city requirements and to remain consistent with our Catholic teaching.

The D.C. Council vote was 11-2, with yes votes from the two openly gay members — David A. Catania, at-large independent, and Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat. Council members Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, and Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Democrat, voted no. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, promptly signed the bill.

Same-sex marriage was approved last year in California, but the law later was struck down by a voter referendum, as was a similar measure in Maine.

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