The Freedom to Marry in the District of Columbia

Winning Marriage: March 3, 2010

Same-sex couples began marrying in Washington D.C. on March 3, 2010 after a marriage bill twice passed the City Council. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill on December 18, 2009. All laws passed in Washington D.C. are subject to congressional review, which gave the United States Congress thirty days to review, and potentially overturn, the law. The law was not overturned and the District began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on March 3, 2012.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • June 11, 1992: The Washington D.C. City Council passes a domestic partnership law that offers limited protections and responsibilities to same-sex couples and their families. Congress blocks the implementation of the law by withholding funds until 2002. Over the years the law expands to include many of the same protections and responsibilities that marriage provides, but not the equality that only comes with marriage.
  • 1993-2009: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Washington D.C. take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • May 20, 2009: Mayor Adrian Fenty and the D.C. Council approve the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act, which ensures that out-of-state same-sex marriages are treated equally under the law. The law takes effect on July 20, 2009.
  • December 18, 2009: Mayor Adrian Fenty signs a marriage bill that ends the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. The bill took effect on March 3, 2010 after a mandatory congressional review period.
  • January 28, 2010: Polling in Washington, D.C. tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.

Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage

  • Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance is a local, all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit political organization fighting for the civil rights of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals.
  • DC for Marriage was an emerging group of local residents working toward equal rights and responsibilities for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia.
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.