We Won! Victory for Equal Rights in Washington, DC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — November 10, 2009 — Washington, DC
A Victory for Family and Relationship Equal Rights!
WE WON! DC MARRIAGE BILL “TWEAKED” AND DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS REMAIN!
I’ve got some great news to share with you!
As you know, Woodhull joined our allies in testifying at the recent hearing in Washington, DC on Bill 18-482, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, that will finally grant same gender partners the right to marry in the District of Columbia.
Our testimony called for full equality – both for the right of same sex couples to marry AND for the retention of the domestic partnership registry.
Today we have something to celebrate as the revised draft of the same-sex marriage bill removes language that would have phased out city registration of new domestic partnerships!
We won! Equality won!
The bill passed the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary by a vote of 4 to 1.
Our work isn’t over, though. The bill now goes to the full Council vote on December 1st. A second vote will be a couple of weeks later!
Our verbal testimony is below. For a copy of our written testimony, please email us at [email protected].
As always, we welcome your support!
VERBAL TESTIMONY, BILL 18-482
RICCI LEVY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
THE WOODHULL FREEDOM FOUNDATION
WASHINGTON, DC COUNCIL HEARING
NOVEMBER 2, 2009
Chairperson Mendelson, Councilmembers Catania and Graham, thank you for giving us, and so many of our allies and constituents, the opportunity to comment on Bill 18-482, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009.
My name is Ricci Levy and I am one of the founders and the Executive Director of The Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Our mission is to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right. We have a vision of a world in which individuals have the ability to develop and express their unique sexuality; where people have personal autonomy with regard to bodily integrity and bodily expression; where every individual has the right to sexual dignity, privacy and consensual sexual expression without societal or governmental interference, coercion or stigmatization.
We strongly support same sex marriage and endorse the bill before you to the extent that it advances equal rights for same sex partners. At the same time we are deeply concerned about the elimination or “sunsetting” of domestic partner rights, joining our testimony to that of Bob Summersgill, Rick Rosendahl, GLAA, AtMP and Mark Levine who testified earlier today and last Monday.
As you consider this proposed piece of legislation, we are asking you to consider it not only as a same sex marriage and/or domestic partner registry issue but also as an equal rights issue.
Freedom – true freedom – is both the freedom to and the freedom not to -in this case to have the freedom to be in a committed relationship and not to marry and to still have equal rights.
Marriage is not the only valid relationship structure!
We are asking this council to grant same sex couples the right to marry and to maintain the rights of those individuals in relationships who choose not to marry without losing their rights – to uphold one of the strongest domestic partner laws in this country. Don’t take away the rights of those who – whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, young or old, choose to partner in a domestic partnership rather than marriage.
Quoting President Barak Obama in a recent speech, he said: “I believe strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away and passing laws that extend equal rights to gay couples.”
Full equality is never achieved by removing the equal rights of one group to secure those of another and so we are asking, today, that this council live up to President Obama’s call for (and I quote) “a nation in which no one is a second-class citizen, in which no one is denied their basic rights, in which all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.”
As I appear before you in this building where Councilman John A Wilson worked tirelessly to ensure equality and human rights, let there be no question in anyone’s mind that equality requires that we ratify same sex marriage and that we maintain the rights already granted to those in committed relationships who choose not to marry.
Thank you for your time and consideration.