Jordan Drafting Bill To Put DC Marriage Law To Vote, As GOP Remains Divided On Using LGBT Wedge

After the Supreme Court declined a request to hear a lawsuit intending to allow a voter referendum on Washington DC’s same-sex marriage law in January, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC) — told The Hill that he will push for a vote to establish a referendum to overturn the law. Now, Congressional Quarterly is reporting that Jordan is drafting the proposal and expects “to draw strong support from House Republicans”:

He and other conservatives say they are weighing how best to promote the vote as an example of Republicans fulfilling a campaign promise. The GOP’s 2010 Pledge to America vowed that a Republican majority would “honor families, traditional marriage, life and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.” […]

But several lawmakers said Boehner has resisted making a similar commitment to press measures in opposition to gay marriage.

The Speaker skirted demands from conservatives earlier this month for a vote on a proposal to instruct House lawyers to defend a provision in the 1996 Defense of Marriage (PL 104–199) that directs the government to recognize marriages only between men and women.

The level of Republican support is difficult to gauge as the GOP leadership attempts to keep the focus on the economy and remains weary of weighing in too heavily on LGBT issues. In this case, not only does a majority of Americans now supports same-sex marriage, but a Congressional intervention into the D.C. law undermines conservatives’ efforts to present their campaign as a local effort to give DC residents the right to vote on the issue. Any additional focus on anti-LGBT issues could also bolster the presidential candidacies of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Rick Santorum, who would face the steepest road in a general election.


D.C.’s marriage law was enacted in 2009, after the D.C. Council passed two measures to recognize marriages performed outside and inside the District. Both bills passed though a mandated congressional review period without challenge, even though several conservative Republicans sponsored bills to ban same-sex marriages in D.C.