Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the District of Columbia enjoy the same rights as non-LGBT people. Along with the rest of the country, the District of Columbia recognizes and allows same-sex marriages. The percentage of same-sex households in the District of Columbia in 2008 was at 1.8%, the highest in the nation. This number had grown to 4.2% by early 2015. The District of Columbia is regarded as very accepting and tolerant of LGBT people and same-sex relationships, with a 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll indicating that 78% of residents supported same-sex marriage.PRRI: American Values Atlas 2017, Washington, DC
/ref> The District also explicitly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the use of conversion therapy on both minors and adults. Same-sex marriage legislation came into effect in March 2010, granting same-sex couples the right to marry, while domestic partnerships were legalized in 2002.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity

In 1801, the United States Congress enacted a law that continued all laws of Maryland and Virginia in the District, with those of Maryland applying to the portion of the District ceded from Maryland and those of Virginia applying to the portion ceded from Virginia. As a result, in the Maryland-ceded portion, sodomy was punished with up to seven years' imprisonment and death for slaves, whereas in the Virginia-ceded portion the penalty was set at 1-10 years' imprisonment and death for slaves. Maryland repealed the death penalty for slaves in 1809. In 1847, the Virginia-ceded portion was given back to Virginia, thus only the Maryland law had effect in the territory. In 1871, Congress granted the District home rule. All existing laws were retained unless and until expressly altered by the City Council. After direct rule was reinstated in 1874, Congress passed legislation in 1901 recognizing common-law crimes, with a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment and/or a fine of 1,000 dollars. A 1935 law made it an offence to solicit a person "for the purpose of prostitution, or any other immoral or lewd purpose". In 1948, Congress passed a law providing for the "treatment of sexual psychopaths and other purposes", criminalizing sodomy, whether homosexual or heterosexual, with up to 10 years' imprisonment or a fine of 1,000 dollars. Oral sex was included in the law's application. The first court case dealing with the issue occurred just one year later in ''Tonker v. United States''. According to a 1950 government report, some 1,400 arrests had been made for "sexual activity", 27% of which had charges dismissed by the courts. In another 50%, collateral was forfeited by the arrestee and nothing further happened. Most of the arrests were for "disorderly conduct". The police department had several officers whose sole job was to "check on homosexuals". Multiple court cases dealt with the issue in the following years. Many of the published sodomy and solicitation cases during the 1950s and 1960s reveal clear entrapment policies by the local police, some of which were disallowed by reviewing courts. In 1972, settling the case of ''Schaefers et al. v. Wilson'', the District of Columbia Government announced its intention not to prosecute anyone for private, consensual adult sodomy, an action disputed by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. The action came as part of a stipulation agreement in a court challenge to the sodomy law brought by four gay men. Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in 1981 but the decision was quickly overturned by the United States Congress. A successful legislative repeal of laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity followed in 1993. Under the ''District of Columbia Home Rule Act 1973'', all laws passed by the Council of the District of Columbia and signed by the Mayor, are subject to a mandatory 30-day "congressional review" by the U.S. Congress. Only then after the 30-day congressional review, and if they are not blocked by Congress, that they become effective in the District of Columbia.

Recognition of same-sex relationships

Same-sex domestic partnerships were legalized by the Council in 1992 through the ''Health Benefits Expansion Act'', but the Republican-controlled Congress refused to approve the measure until 2002, when a legislative rider preventing congressional approval of the Act's implementation was not included that year. Afterwards, the domestic partnership provisions of District law were incrementally expanded. Same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia was legalized on December 18, 2009, when Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill passed by the Council of the District of Columbia on December 15, 2009. Following the signing, the measure entered a mandatory congressional review of 30 work days. Marriage licenses became available on March 3, 2010, and marriages began on March 9. The District became the only jurisdiction in the United States below the Mason–Dixon Line to allow same-sex couples to marry, until neighboring Maryland legalized same-sex marriage on January 1, 2013. Domestic partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex couples remain available as an option alongside marriage. The District has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2002.

Adoption and family planning

Same-sex couples are allowed to legally adopt children. Additionally, lesbian couples have access to in vitro fertilization (the non-gestational, non-genetic parent is automatically recognized as a legal parent of a child born via donor insemination), and gay couples are permitted to undertake gestational and traditional surrogacy arrangements under the same terms and conditions as different-sex couples. On December 2, 2016, a legislative committee passed a bill, in a 9–0 vote, to allow commercial surrogacy contracts for all couples.D.C. Council committee approves 2 LGBT bills
/ref> On December 22, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the bill in its second reading unanimously by a vote of 13–0. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill into law on February 15, 2017, and it went into effect on April 7, 2017, after the 30-day congressional review had passed.

Discrimination protections

thumb|right|230px|Participants at the 2018 parade Sexual orientation and gender identity are both covered as protected classes under District law. Moreover, the District's anti-bullying law prohibits bullying on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intra-family offense, place of residence or business, any other distinguishing characteristic, and association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics. The law also explicitly includes cyberbullying and harassment, and applies to every educational institution in the District. In May 2015, the discrimination ban was expended to include LGBT students attending religious schools. In October 2020, the D.C. Council voted 13–0 to pass a bill legally protecting LGBT seniors living in long-term care facilities in the District from discrimination and harassment. The bill was signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser on November 2, 2020. The law went into effect on January 15, 2021.

Hate crime law

The District's hate crime law covers both sexual orientation and gender identity. It provides additional penalties for crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity, amongst other categories.

Transgender rights

Previously, transgender persons had to undergo sex reassignment surgery to amend the gender marker on their birth certificate and driver's license. Under the ''JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013'', transgender persons in the District may obtain new documentation reflecting their gender identity from the city registrar following a letter from a licensed health care provider certifying their gender identity, and no longer need to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The act passed congressional review and took effect on November 5, 2013. In 2015, a bill was introduced to the D.C. Council to properly record the gender identity of transgender people on death certificates. The bill failed in committee by a vote of 4–6. In 2016, the same bill was introduced by a different member and passed the committee stage by a vote of 9–0. The bill passed its second reading unanimously by a vote of 13-0. Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill into law on February 15, 2017, and it went into effect on April 7, 2017, after the 30-day "congressional review" had passed. Since July 1, 2017, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has offered a third choice for gender on licenses and identification cards: "X". It issued the first-ever gender-neutral identification card in the United States to LGBT activist Shige Sakurai, who helped develop the new policy. In September 2018, the D.C. Council unanimously approved a bill codifying the decision of the Department of Motor Vehicles into law. The "X" option is currently unavailable for birth certificates.

Conversion therapy

On December 2, 2014, the D.C. Council voted unanimously to ban sexual orientation change efforts (conversion therapy) on minors. Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the bill on December 22, 2014. The act passed congressional review and took effect on March 11, 2015. In January 2019, the conversion therapy ban was extended to adults. On January 16, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the ban into law, and it went into effect on March 13, 2019.

Gay and trans panic defense

In September 2019, several bills were introduced to abolish the gay and trans panic defense. In November 2020, the D.C. Council's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee unanimously approved legislation to repeal the gay panic defence. In December 2020, the D.C. Council passed the bill by a unanimous vote of 13–0. It was reported in January 2021 that the government might lack the necessary funds to fully implement the law. On January 11, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the bill into law. The bill will come into force once the 30-day congressional review has passed. The Associated Press reported in February 2021 that the storming of the U.S. capitol had delayed several pieces of legislation from taking effect, including the law abolishing the gay panic defense.

Public opinion and demographics

A 2013 Williams Institute survey showed that 10% of the D.C. adult population identified as LGBT. This was the highest in the United States.LGBT Percentages Highest in Washington, DC, and Hawaii
/ref> A 2017 Public Religion Research Institute poll found that 78% of D.C. residents supported same-sex marriage, while 17% were opposed and 5% were unsure. Additionally, 84% supported an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation and gender identity. 10% were opposed.

Summary table


{{LGBT rights in the United States Rights District of Columbia