Opposition to DC Domestic Partner Law Folds in Senate

Significant Hurdle Cleared in Implementing 9-Year Old Local Law

November 7, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The United States Senate overwhelmingly adopted a bill late this afternoon which would effectively end a 9-year ban on the District of Columbia using local funds to implement a domestic partnership law passed by the District's city council in 1992.

An effort by social conservatives to have an amendment offered that would maintain the ban fizzled, and no amendment was ever offered. The bill then passed by a vote of 75-24 with the strong support of Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), Ranking Member of the D.C. Appropriations subcommittee.

"We are close to victory, and we are grateful for the years of tireless efforts by D.C. Councilmember Carol Schwartz (R) and Councilmember David Catania (R) to push this through," said Mike Ferens, President of LCR/DC. "This is the definition of what LCR/DC stands for, and it is another good day for the gay and lesbian community of Washington, D.C."

"We applaud the Senate Republican leadership for stepping away from this issue at such a critical moment for the District of Columbia in its recovery from the impact of terrorism," said Kevin Ivers, Log Cabin Republicans Director of Public Affairs. "This sends the right message that Republicans respect the local decisions of the District of Columbia, and there should be no distractions from important priorities like the health and well-being of the city's residents."

The Senate action follows similar action in the House. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), founding member of the Log Cabin Republicans National Advisory Board, led an effort to end the local-funds ban on the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year. Kolbe, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, offered an amendment to the D.C. appropriations bill in full committee to end the ban. The amendment was approved on a voice vote. On the House floor, Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), offered an amendment on September 25 to overturn Kolbe's amendment and reinstate the local-funds ban which has been in force since the D.C. law's passage. The Weldon amendment faced overwhelming opposition and was defeated, with 41 Republicans voting to block it.

President Bush did not offer any support for keeping the ban in the Statement of Administration Policy sent to Congress on the D.C. bill.

Lifting the local-funds ban has been a long priority of the District's two Republican city councilmembers – Councilmember David Catania, who is openly gay, and Councilmember Carol Schwartz.

The bill now heads to a House-Senate conference to resolve differences between the two bills. Both bills are clean of any anti-domestic partner riders. It will then be sent to President Bush for his signature.