Just the other day, the U.S, Supreme Court refused to “grant certiorari” in a case that where the City Council refused to put the issue of gay marriage on the ballot in the District of Columbia since the D.C. Human Rights Act forbids ballot initiatives that have the affect of authorizing discrimination under the Act. The D.C. Court of Appeals decision last July upheld the District Council’s right to reject such a ballot. The reaction from pro-equality groups was jubilant and widespread. After all it was a victory for gay marriage from the U.S. Supreme Court.
OK, what does this really mean? It’s mostly procedural. Basically, there is a law in the District of Columbia that grants its citizens certain human and equality rights. The council’s actions granting, first, recognition of gay marriage and then allowing gay marriages to be performed in D.C. fall under those rights. A part of the D.C. Human Rights Act forbids ballot initiatives that would take away any of these rights.
So what is the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling and role in all of this? A group that wanted to overturn the City Council’s actions decided to try a ballot initiative even though such initiative was illegal under the District’s laws. The D.C. Court of Appeals said the law was proper and therefore overturning gay marriage cannot go on the ballot. And what did the U.S. Supreme Court do that was so impressive in this case? They merely decided to not hear the case.
Was this a victory for gay marriage in the nation’s capital? Yes. Did the U.S. Supreme Court do anything all that impressive? Well, if you consider not hearing a controversial case impressive, then I guess so.