Submitted the following in response to the article in today’s Washington Post on possible referendum re: same-sex marriage in D.C.
Dr. Lenora Cole and Mr. Charles Lowery, Jr.
Members, Board of Elections and Ethics, Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW
Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001
Dear Dr. Cole and Mr. Lowery,
My name is Tim MacGeorge, and I am a resident of and registered voter in the District of Columbia. I have lived in Washington, DC for almost sixteen years.
I am writing to ask you not to allow a referendum to be placed on the ballot asking voters to decide whether the District of Columbia should recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions or whether same-sex couples should be allowed to be legally married in the District.
While I recognize that on one level, this request goes against one of the principles of a democratic society, namely that “the people” rule and that “the majority” usually prevail. However, allowing such a referendum could possibly lead — as it did in California — to the violation of another principle of a democratic society that requires limitations to be placed on the “tyranny of the majority,” lest the rights of the minority be trampled underfoot. This second principle must always supersede the first, and our history as nation bears this out. While there have been bleak chapters of our national story in which the rights of some were denied due to the color of their skin, the religion they professed, the gender/sex with which they were created, or other characteristics that define them as persons, we have come a long way as a society in ensuring that people are judged for what they do, and not who they are. Those who seek this referendum fail to recognize the truths about gay men and women, notably that sexual orientation is a given, not a choice; that gay men and women are good, productive members of society; and that gay men and women deserve the same rights to their committed relationships currently afforded married heterosexual couples. Allowing this referendum will afford these individuals, many of whom do not even reside in the District of Columbia and should have no standing whatsoever to bring such a request, to begin a campaign of fear and misinformation that perpetuates so many lies that minorities have always been subjected to.
I make this request as a Christian, as a man who was ordained as a Catholic priest…. I have heard all my life the so-called “Christian” or “biblical” arguments against homosexuality. In fact, I cannot recall ever hearing an “argument against homosexuality” that was not at its root religiously based. These arguments are frail, flimsy, and are easily discarded within the context of a legitimate and honest theological discussion.
Your task, however, is not based on theology. It is based on the law and whether or not such a referendum will advance the cause of justice within the District of Columbia. As citizens of the District of Columbia, we know all too well what it is like not to have full rights within a democracy. Such a referendum will more likely advance the cause of hatred and bigotry and injustice, and continue to keep a segment of our society “less free” than others. I urge you not to allow this referendum to move forward.