DC’s local government is getting a lot of attention today because of the marriage equality vote. #DC4M is a trending topic on twitter and a lot of people are making statements like this one: “DC legalizes gay marriage.”
There’s reason for gay marriage supporters to celebrate, but this is not yet a done deal.
Locals know this, but those of you coming to us from a distance probably don’t: if you’re a resident of one of the fifty states, you share your congressional representation with DC. The difference is that you get to vote them in and out of office, where DC residents just have to live with their meddling.
After the DC council passes a bill and the mayor signs it, both houses of congress get an opportunity to pass a joint resolution disapproving of that act, which the president may opt to sign. If they do so then it doesn’t matter what kind of self-governing actions DC tried to take – it gets thwarted.
You can read about how this happens on the DC Council’s website, but the important thing to realize is that this isn’t a done deal yet: congress can still decide that DC doesn’t get to make its own decisions. The lay of the land currently doesn’t make it look like this is going to happen, but it does mean that this cannot be called done and gay marriage cannot be said to be legal in DC yet.
Section 602-10(c) of the Home Rule Act spells it out:
such act shall take effect upon the expiration of the 30-calendar-day period (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, and any day on which neither House is in session because of an adjournment sine die, a recess of more than three days, or an adjournment of more than three days) beginning on the day such act is transmitted by the Chairman to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate
Congress is spending a lot of time in session trying to get health care through and will likely be in session at least a few days this year after the council sends them this act. However it’s not law till they have 30 working days to think about it.
So enjoy the moment and celebrate – this is a big deal vote. But there isn’t yet marriage equality in the District.