Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sunday night the budget for the District of Columbia was passed by the Senate without the country’s legislative body batting an eye. Normally this wouldn’t be worth mentioning (other than pointing out how strange it is that the federal government has to sign off on a city’s non-federal budget), but among the programs scheduled to be funded by the D.C. city government next year are a needle exchange program (added to the budget by Republicans), abortions for poor women, and the legalization of medical marijuana. Again, the budget breezed through Congress without a hitch. The benefits of seeking passage on a Sunday night in the middle of December, I suppose.
The D.C. city council is hoping to pull a similar trick with more legislation slated to transform the capital city of (easily) the most conservative first world nation into a shining New Sodom: same-sex marriage. The council had previously passed the resolution with an 11-2 vote, and after a strange let’s-sit-on-our-vote period, they voted earlier today to pass it again, with the same 11-2 vote. However, previously unbeknownst to me, the bill the council passed must undergo 30 working days of Congressional review after Mayor Adrian Fenty signs it in to law as he has promised. Is this review period worth worrying about?
Well, it is technically possible that this could explode into a national issue and be voted down by the House and Senate under intense pressure from people blinded by hate, money, and misguided religious beliefs but this is extraordinarily unlikely. It’s late December, these people want to go on their Hanukwansmas breaks. Then it will be January, and they will want to go back on their breaks. Democrats are busy organizing a lynch mob to torch Joe Lieberman’s house and hang his entire family from the White House Christmas tree. Democratic leaders have already implied they don’t really want to get involved in another same-sex marriage debate. 30 working days is an awfully short period of time to turn nothing into something, to convince already preoccupied senators that they will lose their jobs if they affirm a gay marriage bill for a city of 600,000 people that they don’t seem to care much about anyway. Congress has only overturned a DC law three times in the past 25 years.
While we have plenty of reasons to assume that Congress won’t touch this law, we can’t get ahead of ourselves and write of the seemingly impossible as actually being impossible. A lot of people, myself included, didn’t think Proposition 8 had a chance in hell of passing. Be cautiously optimistic, not certain. When I checked my iTouch for any news updates from the AP, I did get a good sign that DC’s same-sex marriage law will stay under the radar. Rather than it saying “Breaking: D.C. city council votes 11-2 to legalize same-sex marriage,” it read, “Breaking: A spokesman for Oral Roberts says the evangelist and university founder has died at age 91.” Oh, the irony.