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Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, same-sex couples married in jurisdictions outside D.C. had their unions recognized by the District, and work is underway to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married in Washington as well. That’s good news for the gay and lesbian community, says D.C. Councilmember David Catania, adding that he has been pleased with the reaction to “this historic legislation” from Washington’s residents. “The opposition has been less than tepid. More like weak tea. There’s only been one really active person opposing the measure, and he isn’t even from D.C.,” Catania says, referring to Bishop Harry Jackson, of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md. Jackson emerged as a leader of the effort to oppose expanding marriage rights for the gay community. After the D.C. Council passed the bill that allowed same-sex marriages to be recognized in the District, Jackson spearheaded the effort to overturn it by referendum. The D.C. elections board rejected the proposed referendum on the bill, saying that it would have violated the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. The battle then moved to the D.C. Superior Court, where Jackson filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election board’s decision. Judge Judith Retchin ruled late last month that there would not be a voter referendum held on legislation. Catania says that the law going into effect today is the first step toward full equality for all of the District’s citizens. “This measure strengthens families, and stronger families means a stronger community,” Catania says. He adds that he plans to introduce legislation in the fall that would allow same-sex couples to marry in D.C. Update: Reached on his cellphone Tuesday evening, Jackson says the opposition effort is far from through. Jackson says that he will seek to take the law off the books by way of an initiative that would put it back in front of the D.C. elections board and could ultimately be appealed to the D.C. Court of Appeals. “This law reflects a city that has bent over backwards not to hear the voice of the people. This law, and laws like it, are the first shots at the institution of marriage that will have far reaching effects on future generations. This will affect education and what the meaning of the word ‘marriage’ is,” Jackson says. “This is not a civil rights issue. This is a redefinition issue.” Despite his complaints about the law, Jackson says it offers people the chance to think about the issue and come to a decision for themselves. “That’s one of the great strengths of this country. People get to debate an issue. My hope is that at the end of the day the people decide to reverse course and do the right thing,” Jackson says.

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