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Washington city council okays same-sex marriage

 Loretta Rich, of Clinton, Md., prays during a protest of the District of Columbia city council's approval of legislation recognizing same sex marriag...
 Brenda Buckner, of Lakeridge, Va. holds up a bible opened to Romans, during a protest of the District of Columbia city council's approval of legislat...

Gay Marriage Congress

Loretta Rich, of Clinton, Md., prays during a protest of the District of Columbia city council's approval of legislation recognizing same sex marriag...

Gay Marriage Congress

Brenda Buckner, of Lakeridge, Va. holds up a bible opened to Romans, during a protest of the District of Columbia city council's approval of legislat...

After an emotional debate, Washington's city council gave final approval Tuesday to legislation that recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere in the United States.
The vote is considered the first step toward eventually allowing gay marriages to be performed in Washington. Congress, which has final say over the city's laws, will get 30 days to review the bill assuming Democratic Mayor Adrian Fenty, a supporter, signs it.
If Congress takes no action, the bill will become law automatically. President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have not signaled where they stand on the bill. Obama generally supports civil unions but has said marriage is between a man and a woman.
"The march toward equality is coming to this country, and you can either be a part of it or stand in the way," said David Catania, one of two openly gay city council members.
Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa already allow gay marriage and lawmakers in several other states are considering whether to do the same. New York recognizes gay marriages performed in other states.
Lawmakers in the state of Maine approved a bill Tuesday that would make the state the fifth to allow gay marriage. The bill faces one more vote each in the House and Senate before it goes to Gov. John Baldacci. He is a Democrat and remains undecided.
The House gave approval Tuesday after rejecting a proposal to let voters decide the issue in November.
The Washington city council vote was 12-to-1, with former Mayor Marion Barry casting the lone opposing vote. Barry, a longtime supporter of the gay community, called it an "agonizing and difficult decision" that he made after praying and consulting with his constituents and the religious community.
Catania called the issue one of fundamental fairness and said it is about acknowledging that his family is just as valid as anybody else's.
"The district has long been a place where we have tried to live under our motto of 'Justice for All.' And there is no justice so long as we recognize that some are more equal than others," he said.
Gay-marriage supporters greeted the vote with applause, but they were outnumbered at city hall by outraged opponents, including many black ministers.
The majority-black District of Columbia, as Washington is known, is overwhelmingly Democratic, but public support for gay marriage is unclear. Exit polls in California indicated about seven in 10 black voters there weighed in against gay marriage in a November vote.
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Associated Press writer Gillian Gaynair contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-18 10:27 GMT+08:00