US court allows Washington, DC, same-sex marriages

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chief Justice John Roberts  of the US Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a request from  opponents of gay marriage to put on hold a new law that allows  same-sex couples to wed in Washington, DC.

Roberts acted right before the law takes effect on  Wednesday. In December, the city council adopted a measure  which adds the nation’s capital to the five states that already  allow same-sex marriage.

Opponents of gay marriage argued there should be a public  referendum on the law, which expands the definition of marriage  to include same-sex couples, before it takes effect.

Roberts refused to put the law on hold and said the local  Board of Elections, the city’s superior court and its court of  appeals all had rejected the request for a referendum.

Roberts said the Supreme Court’s practice has been to defer  to local court decisions on District of Columbia matters of  exclusive local concern. Roberts also said the US Congress  has allowed the law to go into effect.

All local legislation in the District of Columbia, home to  590,000 people, must undergo a mandatory 30-day review period  by Congress before it can become law.

The states of Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and  New Hampshire already allow same-sex marriage.

City officials have said that Wednesday probably will be  the first day same-sex couples can apply for a marriage  licence.

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