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Mayor Fenty Signs Marriage Equality Bill

December 18, 2009 1 comment

Well, it’s official. Washington, DC has become the latest city to fully recognize same-sex marriages.

At a signing ceremony at All Souls Unitarian Church, Mayor Fenty signed the measure into law. It is now off to the U.S. Congress for a 30-legislative day review.

It really is a great day for DC residents and an awesome Christmas gift to DC’s substantial LGBT community. The crowd was sizeable, the Washington Post estimated it at 150. Most of the Council members were in attendance, including Chair Vince Gray. Also in attendance was Harry Thomas, Jr. who at a rally earlier in the week talked at length about his support of marriage equality despite representing a ward that was vocal in its opposition. Such political risks are admirable and it was heartwarming to see him in the front row.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this long fight was the civility involved in the debate over this issue, at least among the Council members. On Tuesday, when the bill was passed, Catania gave praise to Council Members Barry and Alexander. Both members have long supported the LGBT community, but could not bring themselves to support this bill. He implored his supporters and the LGBT community in general to keep their support in other areas in mind and to try to, at the very least, respect their decision.

David Catania delivers remarks at All Souls Church just before Mayor Adrian Fenty (pictured, right) signed the historic bill into law. Catania was the marriage bill's lead sponsor.

Of course, our work is not over as we ready for a potential fight in Congress. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has already stated that he plans to introduce a bill that would bar the law from being implemented. Chaffetz himself has little faith that his bill will get anywhere in this Congress, as he told the Salt Lake Tribune, “It’s going to be exceptionally difficult because Democrats have us outnumbered by large amounts.”  Indeed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said publicly several months ago that Congress would not get involved. “The speaker is a longstanding supporter of marriage equality and of the District of Columbia making decisions for itself,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House speaker Nancy Pelosi to The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld.

I’m ready for this fight. I know the whole community is, but today I plan to celebrate. With Mayor Fenty’s signature, he has made Washington now, more than ever, a shining example of what cities across America should be.

(photo courtesy of HRC Backstory)

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In Sickness and in Health

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

(cross-posted from The Bilerico Project)

I’ve never been prouder to live in Washington, D.C. than this week when the DC Council voted to recognize same-sex marriages. Come next spring, D.C. will be this country’s only major city in which marriage equality is the law, Congress’ intervention notwithstanding.

It was with great anticipation that we attended a rally on eve of the historic vote, as my friends and I have been following this closely for the past year. It was inspiring to hear our elected officials talk about their support for marriage equality, especially the members who took a political risk for such support. I was also smacked with a dose of reality when I though about my own very long engagement to Jim. This is actually going to happen, I kept thinking. No more excuses, he is yours and you are his and you’re going to be married.

I think it’s a tad early to start planning any ceremony, and I know Jim would agree that our ceremony will probably bear little resemblance to any traditional straight ceremony, including the exchanging of vows. There is one tradition, though, I want to incorporate into our ceremony: the promise to support Jim in sickness and in health.

We have been together for more than four years now, but the last two years have been the most intense and integral years of our relationship. In this time, we have moved across the country, endured job losses, two hospitalizations and soon an up-coming marriage. I think my commitment to Jim is more than clear, especially when it comes to supporting him while sick. Now I get to express that commitment in front of the folks I love most.

It isn’t that I’m glad we have had to endure the battle with bipolar. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that our struggle to live with it has brought us closer together. There have been times when I thought I should leave because I was unequipped to deal with it. Other times, I was just so angry that this was a reality in my life. I was even incredulous to bipolar’s existence, though that was largely a fleeting thought.

Then the thought of being without Jim would surface and suddenly the bipolar disorder seemed less important, less scary. After all, what kind of a man would I be if I left him when he was at his weakest. Where was the passion in me to fight for those I love? Was a sickness going to keep me from being with the one person who made me happiest?

Obviously we have stayed together and we continue to learn from each other. We also continue to learn how to live with bipolar and how to cope with the inevitable ups and downs. I think we have both proven to each other that we are willing to stay with each other in sickness and in health.

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