No big surprises in the first D.C. Council vote on legalizing same-sex marriage: the Council today voted 11-2 to approve the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009," with Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) the only dissenters.
The historic legislation still needs to pass a second vote in the Council in the next month, at which point it will be sent to D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty for his signature. Fenty has promised he will sign the bill.
During a brief debate period before the vote, David Catania (I-At large), the bill's champion, remarked that when he first joined the Council in 1997, he never imagined that he would see the day when the body would take up such legislation.
Barry was perhaps the only vote in question today. While in the past the Ward 8 Council member has promised to support same-sex marriage, earlier this year Barry flip-flopped on the issue and voted against recognizing gay marriages that are performed legally in other states.
"The African American community has much different views on this issue," Barry said today, noting that he would have preferred to see a ballot initiative on gay marriage.
In voting for the bill today, the Council also sent a firm message to the Washington Archdiocese, which has threatened to stop providing services inside the District of Columbia through its Catholic Charities group should the bill pass as it's currently written. Ward 6's Tommy Wells made a point of listing other religious groups that already provide services in D.C. that could step in to fill the gap.