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D.C. Appeals Court Listens To Arguments On Gay Marriage

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Rabbi Noson Liter of New York outside the steps of the D.C. Court of Appeals for a hearing on gay marriage.
Patrick Madden
Rabbi Noson Liter of New York outside the steps of the D.C. Court of Appeals for a hearing on gay marriage.

By Patrick Madden

The D.C. Court of Appeals is weighing arguments in a case about gay marriage in the District.

Before the city passed its gay marriage law earlier this year, Maryland Pastor Harry Jackson proposed an initiative to define marriage as between a man and a woman. But the city's board of elections and ethics ruled such a vote would violate D.C.'s Human Rights Act, a Superior Court judge agreed, and now the case is before the Appeals Court.

The two hour back-and-forth between the lawyers and the judges was at times full of legalese. But at its heart this case is about the tension in any democracy between individual rights and the will of the majority.

On one hand, you have gay marriage supporters like Justin Wilson, who say civil rights should never be put to a vote.

"I mean, isn't the whole point of our being a representative democracy that we don't have 100 percent majority rule for that very reason," says Wilson.

On the other side, there's Harry Jackson's lawyer, Austin Nimocas.

"The people are demanding the right to vote on this question and they have the right to do it," says Nimocas.

If Jackson loses, he says he's likely to take his case to the Supreme Court.

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