The District of Columbia Attorney General's Office asked a Superior Court judge on Friday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by gay marriage opponents who are seeking a local ballot initiative that would ban same-sex unions.
The 46-page document, filed the same day Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the District, argues that that D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics was right when it rejected the initiative, finding that it would violate the D.C. Human Rights Act by discriminating against gays and lesbians. In September, a group led by Bishop Harry Jackson had asked the board to approve a ballot measure establishing that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the District of Columbia." It sued after the board's decision, arguing that the Human Rights Act could not be used to stop citizens from putting ballot initiatives to a vote.
Last week, the OAG argued that the Human Rights Act trumped the right to propose initiatives. But it also noted that the D.C. Code outright bans initiatives that would "authorize discrimination."
"While petitioners treat the right of initiative as fundamental, the Founding Fathers recognized the threat that an unchecked majority posed to the liberty of disfavored minorities and thus created a republican form of government," the District's motion states.
This is the second recent lawsuit over gay marriage brought by Bishop Jackson and his supporters. In June, Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin denied a suit he filed after the Board of Elections rejected an initiative that would have kept the District from recognizing same-sex unions from out of state.
A motions hearing is scheduled in the current case for Jan. 6.