Gay rights groups applauded the decision.
“The court’s ruling today is a significant victory for justice, the rule of law and the protection of all DC residents against discrimination,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.
While the ruling – which could be taken up by the US Supreme Court – addresses a signature issue in today’s political culture wars, it also relates to DC’s unique position under the scrutiny of Congress.
The 81-page ruling is set in the context of the history of Home Rule in the DC, over which Congress retains considerable power.
Republicans and some conservative Democrats in Congress are trying to exert congressional authority over the District in this matter with a bill called the "DC Defense of Marriage Act." The bill would define marriage in DC as the “union of one man and one woman.”
“The ideal institution for raising children is family, it is moms and dads,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio said at a rally announcing the bill in May. “This is the national capital of the greatest country in the world, and this is a fight worth getting into, defending that key institution.”