The Washington Post is reporting that the District of Columbia is set to officially legalize gay marriage. 10 of the 13 District council members have already signed on as co-sponsors, making passage nearly a given.
This is tremendously important. Obviously, and lest we skate by it, every jurisdiction that legalizes gay marriage is doing something tremendously important because it is taking a huge step towards the establishment of gays and lesbians as full and equal citizens. But there are particular reasons why DC particularly means a lot. First, it has activists in Maryland very excited -- they think that a DC passage could be the domino that allows my state to follow suit within a few years. Second, it forces the US Congress to take at least an indirect stand, as Congress, as part of its colonial oversight powers over the nation's capital, can overrule the will of the people and reject District laws if it wishes. I fully expect Democrats and Republicans to respect the will of the city's voters and it's sovereignty, and allow their decision to stand, however.
Finally, this is an important riposte to those who seek to portray the gay marriage debate as a wedge between the African-Americans and the Democratic Party. Making DC, a majority Black jurisdiction, amongst the first handful of locations to legalize gay marriage sends an important message to those peddling that narrative. And DC isn't just "anywhere" -- aside from being the nation's capital, it is one of the backbones of the Black political class. It is a weathervane -- not for the entire Black community, but for an important and influential segment of it. And that matters too -- and it's testament to the hard work of activists of all races and creeds who have done the hard work of telling their stories and making their pitch in all sorts of different American communities.