The bill was created to block a D.C. City Council measure, approved in early May, which seeks to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The D.C. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a bold move because D.C. residents have been fighting for home rule for years. Despite their struggles, Congress has still maintained the procedural right to weigh in on any new law in the District of Columbia.
The Congressional co-sponsors of the bill recognized that the D.C. City Council had not asked for input from the people of the District before they voted 12 to 1 to recognize gay marriages as the first step of approving full-blown homosexual marriage. Anyone paying attention to the nation's political scene knows that same-sex marriage is still a very controversial issue. Contrary to the City Council's assertion of the popularity for their campaign for same-sex marriage, it's hard to believe that their 92 percent vote for same-sex marriage would represent the wishes of any metropolitan jurisdiction in the nation.
Before I share further details about this bill and how you can get involved with the struggle, let me give you a little more of the back story. The D.C. City Council has arrogantly ignored the fact that 100 pastors signed and delivered a letter urging D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and the Council not to sign the bill. Further the letter was reprinted as a full-page ad in a Capitol Hill newspaper read by all political insiders. In addition, Christian ministers and lay persons of many different denominations have attended two Stand for Marriage D.C. rallies in the last three weeks. There is a growing sense of political outrage among D.C. residents.
Last Thursday, I was elated as over 400 hundred ministers from 46 states descended on D.C. for a strategic political briefing, lobbying and prayer on Capitol Hill. Several hundred leaders from this group attended the press conference while others dutifully attended their pre-scheduled sessions with their congressmen and senators. Rep. Jim Jordan's opening statements energized the crowd, "The ideal institution for raising children is family; it is moms and dads."
Surrounded by clergy and his co-sponsors, Jordan continued his declaration of political war by saying, "We saw what happened in Iowa. We saw what happened in New Hampshire. ... This is our nation's capital; the greatest nation in history; the greatest capital in history ... This is our capital city that belongs to the entire country and the residents here, with the strong support of the clergy and pastors and Christian community, [we] understand this is a fight we have to wage."
Congressional sponsors believe they'll gather enough public support to move forward with this legislation, but once again, biased, out-of-touch local legislators refuse to represent the will of the people. First of all, D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, a democrat who sponsored the local legislation on same-sex marriages, angrily accuses House members of intruding on states' rights. If Mendelson was a true legislator instead of an out-of-control advocate, he would be interested in having the will of the people heard in his
In addition, famed Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has appeared on The Colbert Report, the PBS program To the Contrary and numerous other venues advocating the D.C. community's right to have full voting rights in Congress, yet she has opposed Congress getting involved with this measure. How can this "shadow representative" promote the people in one measure and ignore them in another?
Next beleaguered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. has announced that she will avoid a Congressional vote on this issue. She has publicly declared that Congress should not intervene in the Council's decision. By not representing the will of the people, I believe Pelosi would be derelict in her duties. Mendelson, Norton and Pelosi have a blind spot that some people would call hypocrisy. They want their opinions and votes to count but they don't want to honor the views of the citizens they represent. Furthermore the issue of same-sex marriage is huge. Many are already calling this the biggest "human rights" debate of our lifetime. "Something is certainly rotten in Denmark," as the expression goes. Perhaps we should modify that expression and say, "Something stinks inside of the Beltway!"
If Congress takes no action on the Council's measure by July 6, it becomes law. Then on the heels of the reciprocity law, several of D.C.'s runaway council members plan to introduce direct legislation recognizing gay marriages performed in the District.
What can you do?
You can help us by doing three things:
1. Send a copy of this article to 5 friends, including your pastor.
2. Send the largest financial gift you can to help educate D.C. area laymen and clergy about the dangers of same-sex marriage.
3. Let your Congressmen know that you support the D.C. DOMA.
It's time for three sleeping giants to wake from their political slumber - white evangelicals, social conservatives (including blue dog Democrats), and the minority church (especially blacks and Hispanics). America needs you! We need your voice and your vote. We also need your faith and your finances.
We need you to enter this defining social battle of our generation! "The Calvary Ain't Coming!" declares Chris Gardner, the real life subject of the movie The Pursuit of Happiness and author of the new book Start Where You Are.
You are the answer to this nation's most pressing problems. Let's keep hope alive!
Harry R. Jackson Jr. is senior pastor of 3,000-member Hope Christian Church in the nation's capital. Jackson, who earned an MBA from Harvard, is a best-selling author and popular conference speaker. He leads the High-Impact Leadership Coalition.