A leading House Republican is pledging to follow-through on his promise to force a referendum on the District of Columbia’s 2010 marriage equality law. In January, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Religious Right activists demanded that the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in D.C. be put to a popular vote after the Supreme Court rebuffed an attempt by Harry Jackson to compel a referendum. Jordan is head of the Republican Study Committee, the principal caucus for House conservatives, and wants to take advantage of Congress’s disproportionate power over District affairs in order to push his opposition to marriage equality. CQ reports (subscription only):
Jim Jordan, chairman of the 176-member Republican Study Committee, is leading an effort by conservatives to press House leaders for floor votes in opposition to gay marriage.
Jordan’s first project is a draft proposal that would set up a referendum to overturn a year-old District of Columbia law recognizing marriages of gay and lesbian couples. The move comes as conservatives express a desire to move beyond a focus on spending cuts and expand the House majority’s legislative agenda to include social issues.
The Supreme Court declined in January to take up a case aimed at clearing the way for a referendum to ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital. City officials have blocked the referendum on the grounds that it would violate a city human rights law.
Jordan said he expects the draft measure to draw strong support from House Republicans. He and other conservatives say they are weighing how best to promote the vote as an example of Republicans fulfilling a campaign promise. The GOP’s 2010 Pledge to America vowed that a Republican majority would “honor families, traditional marriage, life and the private and faith-based organizations that form the core of our American values.”
Jordan says he will press for a floor vote to allow fellow conservatives to make clear their opposition to gay marriage. “We want to advance marriage. That’s the pledge. Our party should be all about defending marriage as it has always been defined,” he said.
Reps. Steve King of Iowa and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri have also been calling for floor action to demonstrate opposition to gay marriage. Hartzler has gathered 98 cosponsors for a resolution condemning the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending restrictions on gay marriage.