High Court rejects pastor's ballot initiative to overturn same-sex marriage
January 18th, 2011
02:02 PM ET

High Court rejects pastor's ballot initiative to overturn same-sex marriage

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

The United States Supreme Court denied an appeal Tuesday from Bishop Harry Jackson to hold a ballot initiative in the District of Columbia that would, if approved, have overturned the District's same-sex marriage policy.

In May 2009, the city council approved a measure that amended the city's marriage act and said the city would recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

Jackson and other religious leaders challenged the city on the measure saying the matter should be put to District voters in a ballot initiative. There initiative wanted to amend the law to say, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the District of Columbia." If that initiative had passed it would have effectively overturned the city's legal recognition of gay marriage.

The DC Board of Elections denied the request for a ballot initiative saying it would violate the city's 1973 Human Right Act, which prevents discriminatory ballot initiatives. They said the proposed ballot initiative would be discriminatory to gay and lesbian citizens.

Then in March 2010, the District passed the Marriage Equality Act which expanded the city's definition of marriage to say, "Any person may enter into marriage in the District of Columbia with another person, regardless of gender, unless the marriage is expressly prohibited by law."

Jackson and others challenged the Board of Elections in court over the denied ballot initiative.

Jackson is the pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, but has residency in the District. He joined with a number of other DC residents on the case but was the lead plaintiff in Jackson v District of Columbia Board of Elections.

In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued a 5-4 ruling saying the DC Board of Elections acted lawfully in denying the initiative and the Human Rights Acts was also legally valid.

It was that ruling Jackson and others had appealed to the Supreme Court. The court was silent in issuing it's ruling. It only listed Jackson's case among many others as "Certiorari Denied," meaning the justices would not hear arguments on the case and the ruling of the lower court would stand.

DC based Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered civil rights group, lauded the court's decision. HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement, "The DC Council and Mayor courageously made marriage equality a reality last year, and the courts have since upheld the rights of DC residents to govern ourselves and take the necessary steps to eliminate discrimination in our community."

"We knew this direction was a long shot," Bishop Jackson told CNN of the legal route to the Supreme Court. "The answer now is for us, return to the political process. All is not lost at the Supreme Court level, in that there still will no doubt be a case from Massachusetts or California that will reach the Supreme Court and get some direction on the issue of marriage."

Jackson pointed out there are several cases moving through the legal system that deal with those states' definition of marriage as well.

Jackson said legally his supporters move into the position of wait and see. "I'm confident that Massachusetts or California will eventually wind up in the Supreme Court and there, this thing will have another kind of viewing. [The court] may have been saying we're not going to let your DC case be the defining issue on who can and can't be married," he said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Courts • DC • Gay marriage • Pastors • United States

soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. the real problem

    There is truly nothing wrong with those who have a preference for the same s-x, its a genetic phenomenon that causes this preference and the choice really does not exist for someone who truly has this preference. Someone with blond hair or dark skin doesn't choose to be that way, they just are, its a programming issue, not a moral choice. The moral choice comes from how one chooses to express this fact about themselves and many gay and lesbian activists allow the wrong spokespeople to send the wrong messages to a society that hasn't shed the animal instincts to reject what may be viewed as defective. The gay rights community should reject members of their community that promote h-om-ose-xua-lity as deviant behavior, such as NAMBLA's participation in the gay pride parade for example. Allowing those organizations to communicate extremely deviant messages such as "s-x before 8 before its too late" demonizes the rest of the gay community in a way that motivates conservatives in society to over-reactive measures. The rights movement leaders should recognize this instead of sweeping it under the rug or even worse, promoting it as a good expression. We all have the freedom of speech here in the U.S. but public ridicule of certain viewpoints has the most effect when a society wants to rid itself of bad messages (think anti-tobacco adds or public denunciation of rac-ist remarks). The gay rights movement needs to clean house to win a better public image of itself so that people stop contemplating scenarios where their children will be exposed to something as horrifying as some of the messages out there.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  2. not important

    As far as marriage is concerned, marriage has its roots in religious doctrine and beliefs and I'm a firm believer that all marriage should be separated from legal recognition. Governments should recognize civil unions for all and let religious or philosophical beliefs about choosing a mate remain outside of government. We'll only achieve real equality by doing so. Companies civilly unite by merging; there are no rules about who a company unites with or how many companies unite. Civil unions are contractual representations of a business relationship and governments should work hard to keep things on a business basis. Recognizing marriage for two people regardless of orientation would still cause inequality. For example, those who choose to engage in polygany or polyandry (or both for the s-x ual ly creative) will not be able to obtain the same legal contractual rights that a pair of people could obtain. Inequality will still exist so long as we keep religious/philosophical concepts of marriage alive in our laws. I fully support equality for all and I think the existing debate has an incomplete focus. Further, reducing all marriages to civil unions by recognizing marriages as business contracts removes the argument from debate by recognizing equality for all regardless of their beliefs.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  3. Jared

    Eric G.....Up above post you compare Jesus and Horeb. No comparison at all. See this

    January 22, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  4. HeavenSent

    dolores cordell, go to the bottom of the Ricky Gervais article. I posted the truth of Jesus teachings regarding creation. Obviously, you, as do so many other non-believers, didn’t know how to read his truth.

    I posted how to read His truth and what scriptures view. His truth broken down so even a non-believer can comprehend ... how non-believers of the past insist on how you should read it. Check it out for yourself, then will discuss what you want to argue after reading His truth the way it's suppose to be read.

    January 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  5. HisOwn

    NL...I think you need to understand that God has not preplanned your demise, by not choosing you, thus leaving you outside of his plan.
    Did foreknow (προέγνω)

    Five times in the New Testament. In all cases it means foreknow. Acts 26:5; 1 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:17; Romans 11:2. It does not mean foreordain. It signifies prescience, not preelection. "It is God's being aware in His plan, by means of which, before the subjects are destined by Him to salvation, He knows whom He has to destine thereto" (Meyer).

    For more of a better understanding, read this at: http://bible.cc/romans/8-29.htm
    A little more then half way down the page, is an explanation that I think will best help you understand exactly was is being said by God.

    God loves all people and it was not a pick and choose. He knows who would conform to the grace of God that is involved here. My friend, God is just and offers all men the chance to recieve his Holy Spirit .

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  6. MarkinFL

    What equality bill are you talking about? Massachusetts recent bill specifically states that no religious inst itution could be forced to perform any marriage it does not wish too. Any attempt to force a church to perform a ceremony would be shot down on Con st itu tional grounds.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  7. MarkinFLA

    The point is simple. Marriage is not restricted to religious couples, so any religious argument against a marriage is irrelevant. So if you disallow g ay marriage you have to disallow atheist marriage and various religions that do not follow your beliefs. The only argument against gay marriage comes from religion and our government is not based on your religious beliefs. What YOU think of someone elses' marriage is completely immaterial.
    Religious people are attempting to impose their beliefs through the ballot box. However, the ultimate authority in this country is the Cons###tution which is why the conservatives so much wanted an amendment about marriage. Everyone knows the current law is not Con###itutio#nal and it is only a matter of time before all of those bigoted laws eventually fall.

    Also, churches are not forced to Marry ANYONE. Try to get married in the Catholic church if you're not Catholic.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • CatholicMom

      If an atheist gets married in a church, I would guess he is no longer an atheist. On the other hand, if gays get married in a church, I would guess they are still gay and that the church they got married in is not a Christian church.

      January 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  8. MarkinFL

    This is scary. Apparently the Con sti tut ion is a banned word and needs a moderator to be posted. This is so outrageous. I am stunned beyond belief. I am going to attempt a few reposts of mine that were sent to moderation for having the temerity to mention our most valued national treasure.

    January 20, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Peace2All


      ...Consti-tution contains the word... t!t in it. That's why it wasn't going through.


      January 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  9. HeavenSent

    You non-believers are so lost as you buck your heritage handed down to you from your ancestors that lived before you. Why? To prove you can make your own way in life, completely opposite of your parents and grandparents before you. They know nothing? You think wrong on this because of your own rebellious nature ... as you continue to fill your empty (dead souls) ... searching and searching for all the babble baloney on the net. You jump at the chance for what any/all other non-believer (living or dead) tells you. Blindly following, with no rhyme or reason. Oh, this or that propaganda was written on the Net or in a Book or pamphlet ... so it must be true because it fills your ego. You read countless sites on the net feeding into your emptiness. It must be true so you follow other non-believers blindly. Christians call that "the blind leading the blind". That's where you are, spiritual blind and spiritually dead, wallowing in darkness. Your mission? To divide and conquer our Creator's wisdom because you can't stand that your parents knew more than YOU! So, what do you continue to do. Allow other broken spirits stroke your big egos and get you to join them in their misery! It's true. Misery loves company.

    Prove to a Christian your ego isn't out of whack with all the babble you follow!

    P.S. Our creator, Jesus Christ told all of us to stay humble for a reason. The above statement, being the number one rule, do not worship any God before Him. The god you worship is your own ego.

    January 20, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Nick1973

      Actually...most folks ancestorstral heritage was paganism...Until convert or die came along...which was such a very jesus like way of spreading his message. Not unlike what I think you and yours would do if you could get away with it...This is a secular state, not a theocracy...Keep your religion in the closet please...its offensive.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • glenn robert

      Jesus born of a virgin fathered by god. There was no man involved! Oops!

      February 17, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Bry

      Heritager handed down to me? Which one, Mine were pagan ! And if your european descent, SO WERE YOURS! We atleast before they were christian.. so im GONNA pass the BUCK along and follow in my ancestors ways and over throw old beliefs and replace them with beter logic! all though some of my ancestors might have had to submit to christian.. seeing how only the elite converted to christianity!Hints why pagani = magician and also was reference to Peasant.. cuz in your ancestors day.. ONLY the poor uneducated held unto to outdated info.. Because the lacked the money to learn.. whew thank god we left that society huh?

      February 17, 2011 at 2:47 am |
  10. HeavenSent

    Peace2All, I'm reading all your babble of baloney on this site. That is what you stand for? Babble! Christians stand for Jesus Christ. He that created all. If you don't stand for Jesus' truth, you stand for the opposite of He that is I AM. Therefore, you stand for nothing ... just swaying in the wind, whichever the winds blow.

    Amen or in your carnal terms, PERIOD.

    January 20, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  11. Viper

    "Then in March 2010, the District passed the Marriage Equality Act which expanded the city's definition of marriage to say, "Any person may enter into marriage in the District of Columbia with another person, regardless of gender, unless the marriage is expressly prohibited by law."

    COOL! There's this 17 year old Asian chick I've kind of had my eye on... (Not!)

    January 20, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  12. Viper

    "Then in March 2010, the District passed the Marriage Equality Act which expanded the city's definition of marriage to say, "Any person may enter into marriage in the District of Columbia with another person, regardless of gender, unless the marriage is expressly prohibited by law."

    COOL! There's this 1 year old Asian chick I've kind of had my eye on... (Not!)

    January 20, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  13. LJ

    To who ever is monitoring these comments it's becoming a mess because you are deleting the original posts so the comment replying to them have no reference.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.