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Marion Barry: D.C. Risks 'Civil War' on Gay Marriage

Thursday, 07 May 2009 02:46 PM

By Rick Pedraza

Washington, D.C., City Councilman Marion Barry predicts there will be a “civil war” in the nation’s capital if the District of Columbia decides to take up a broader same-sex marriage bill this year.

"All hell is going to break loose," warned Barry, the former D.C. mayor once jailed on cocaine charges, after the council voted 12-to-1 Tuesday to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this."

Barry, a longtime D.C. mayor who followed a third term in office with a conviction on cocaine possession charges, assumed the councilman's office for the fourth time after his release from a three-year prison term in 1992.

A self-proclaimed longtime supporter of gay rights, he was the only council member to vote against the same-sex marriage bill Tuesday, saying he did to satisfy his Southeast Washington district constituents, the Washington Post reports.

"What you've got to understand is 98 percent of my constituents are black and we don't have but a handful of openly gay residents,” Barry explained.

“Secondly, at least 70 percent of those who express themselves to me about this are opposed to anything dealing with this issue. The ministers think it is a sin, and I have to be sensitive to that."

Barry’s comments came after a group of black ministers that oppose same-sex marriage protested outside the council chambers after the vote. The group reportedly threatened council members who voted for the bill with retribution at the polls.

The uproar caused such a commotion that security guards and police had to be called in to clear the hallway, according to the Associated Press.

Leading a charge in Congress to overturn the district's move to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states is Utah's newest member of Congress, Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz, the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee that oversees the district, is talking to House minority leaders over options to thwart the same-sex marriage sanction within the nation's capital.

"I'm in favor of recognizing marriage as a union between a man and a woman," Chaffetz told The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. "I'm not in favor of trying to redefine it, or disguise it under another name."

Unlike other U.S. cities, Washington has no ultimate control over its own laws and budgets, leaving Congress 30 days in which to decide whether to cancel the city council's vote.

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