D.C. Coalition Fights for Traditional Marriage

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WASHINGTON -- Vermont joined Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, Tuesday, as the next state in the U.S. to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Gay marriage will also be legal in New Hampshire starting in January.

The battle over the right to marry has been underway in states across the country, including the nation's capitol.

The D.C. City Council recently voted to recognize gay marriages performed in other places, but pastors there are fighting to let voters have a say.

A group of clergy and their associates shouted out "the will of the people" at the government building Tuesday where they filed a ballot initiative that would let D.C. voters ban gay marriage.

Click play for more analysis on the nation's gay marriage debate with Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage.

They say D.C. residents are being denied the right to decide themselves one of the most fundamental questions for a society -- who should be allowed to marry?

Religious leaders are concerned by news that the City Council is going to go ahead by itself and legalize gay marriage soon.

"The citizens want marriage to be between a woman and a man. They don't want this upended," said Rev. Dale Wafer of The Harvest Church. "We're not opposed to any rights at all. We believe everybody should have a right to vote and everybody have a right to vote on this issue. And all we're saying is let the people be heard."

The group already faced one defeat with the Board of Elections, which refused to allow a ballot initiative on overturning the City Council's recognition of gay marriages performed elsewhere.

Still, the clergymen feel this is a battle they must fight and take to court if the Board turns them down.

What happens in the District of Columbia won't just affect the nation's capitol, but could have implications for the entire nation, which has also sparked growing concern.

Congress has a right to overrule the D.C. City Council if it votes for gay marriage, though it's unlikely. Gay rights groups could also take that passive federal approval and argue in court it should trump individual states' disapproval of gay marriage.

"This is a case that we as a pro-family movement need to win," Bishop Harry Jackson of Stand4Marriage D.C. said.

Rev. Anthony Evans, a Democrat himself, says if the Democrat leaders of Congress don't stand up against gay marriage, they may well find themselves in trouble with the voters who do so much to keep them in Congress.

"We do not approve of same-sex marriage and if you try to enforce that on us, then we're going to sit on our hands in key states around the country and deny the Democrats the majority in the House," he claimed.

Jackson believes, even in liberal D.C., its overwhelmingly black population will stand up for traditional marriage.

"We have a righteous, moral core group that wants the best for this city and believe that marriage and family are unchangeable values that must be upheld," he said.

*Originally published September 1, 2009

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.