The Blog

Guns and Gays in the District

4:24 PM, Apr 7, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The District of Columbia's Council voted today to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, setting Republicans on the Hill up for a great opportunity to hit an issue that polls well. As the Washington Post puts it, "The unanimous vote sets the stage for future debate on legalizing same-sex marriage in the District and a clash with Congress, which approves the city's laws under Home Rule. The council is expected to take a final vote on the legislation next month."

It's also possible that Congress will take up the issue of DC voting rights next month, which has been bundled with the nearly total repeal of the District's onerous gun control laws. DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has opposed taking the measure to a vote if it is tied to the gun issue, but Republicans have blocked any further movement on the bill unless the linkage remains intact, and Norton has few allies in her push for a "clean" bill.

On both issues, Democrats in the District seem to have near religious faith in the righteousness of their cause and their prospects for victory, but Republicans should take heart: these measures are a gift. Democrats in Congress will be hard pressed to side with the District's Council on gay marriage when such measures have been soundly rejected in solid blue states like California. And the Supreme Court is almost certain to strike down voting rights for the District -- even Eric Holder's Justice Department found the legislation unconstitutional. The repeal of the District's gun regulations would, however, remain intact regardless of the Court's ruling on voting rights.

In other words, the District may soon be forced to accept marriage as a union between one man and one woman, lift its restrictions on gun ownership, and eliminate requirements for the registration of firearms. And all the while Republicans will get to make their Democratic colleagues squirm.