The Council of the District of Columbia voted 11-2 in favor of same-sex marriage Tuesday morning in the first of two votes to be taken on the issue in the nation’s capital.
Sponsored by openly-gay councilman David Catania, the bill was widely thought to easily pass through the city council, as 10 of the 13 members co-introduced it. Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander voted no.
The final vote is expected later this month, and Mayor Adrian Fenty has said he will sign the bill.
Congress has 30 days after any new district law is passed to overturn the measure. Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz has been a lone vocal dissenter as ranking Republican on the House subcommittee overseeing District of Columbia issues. Chaffetz charges Senate Democrats are “afraid” to put the issue to a vote. Only three pieces of legislation have been blocked by Congress in the last 25 years.
Same-sex marriages would begin in the city as soon as the period of Congressional review ends.
The bill specifically says religious leaders and institutions are not required to perform the marriages. They also are not required to allow the marriages in their buildings unless they normally let the public use or rent them.
Earlier this year, the council set the wheels in motion when it passed a bill recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Opponents fought and failed to have that bill put to a vote by the people in 2010.
The Archdiocese of Washington has threatened to withdraw millions in funding for D.C. social services to the poor and homeless if gay marriage is legalized in D.C. Other religious leaders have threatened a citizen initiative to repeal the bill once passed.