- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

House lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation defining marriage in the District as a union between one man and one woman - an attempt to prevent the nation’s capital from moving toward greater recognition for same-sex couples.

“This is a fight we cannot shy away from, and it is a fight we have to win,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican and one of the bill’s sponsors.

The D.C. Defense of Marriage Act states that marriage in the District “means the union of one man and one woman,” Mr. Jordan’s office said. Its introduction comes after the D.C. Council passed legislation this month recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere.

The city’s bill is seen as a precursor to a legislative efforts likely to come later this year that would permit same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.

A majority of council members say they either will or are likely to support such a move, although advocates are wary of its reception in Congress. The issue also has drawn opposition among the area’s religious community and caused council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, to predict that it would divide the District along racial lines.

Congress, which has oversight of city legislation, can block a D.C. bill from becoming law by enacting a joint resolution disapproving the council act within 30 days. The president also must approve the resolution.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Jordan said the federal measure would pre-empt the city’s law even without a disapproval resolution, although the bill’s prospects are uncertain.

Democrats control the U.S. House and Senate, but proponents of the measure noted that Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman when pertaining to federal laws, in 1996.

Jordan spokeswoman Meghan Snyder said the bill also has more than 30 co-sponsors, including two Democrats, and would be routed to the House subcommittee with oversight of the District, where Utah Republican and bill supporter Rep. Jason Chaffetz is the ranking minority member.

“We’re optimistic and hopeful of winning more support along the way,” she said.

However, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in Congress and also a member of the subcommittee, supports the city’s measure, and her office has said she will work to protect it.

“While it is always wise to be strategic on matters that come before Congress, I do not believe that a serious attempt to overturn the council bill will be made or would be successful,” Mrs. Norton said in a May 5 statement.

A spokeswoman for the congresswoman said Thursday that “nothing has changed” since that time.

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