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Campus Notebook: Home Free

Same-sex couples will apply for marriage licenses in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol today, after Congress declined to stop the enactment of a local law legalizing gay marriage.

[IMGCAP(1)]Congress had 30 legislative days to prevent the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act from becoming law in Washington, D.C. But while several Republicans were against the bill, they had few options to kill it. Democrats control the floor, and Congress hasn’t overturned a D.C. law in more than 20 years.

Starting today, D.C. will become one of a handful of places where same-sex couples can get married. The city’s Marriage Bureau, at 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Room 4485, expects hundreds of couples to fill out marriage applications. D.C. Councilman David Catania (D), who sponsored the bill, will even be handing out free congratulatory cupcakes from Hello Cupcake.

Pessimistic Platts. Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) doesn’t think he’ll get the top position at the Government Accountability Office, according to a recent interview with the York Dispatch.

Platts has long been rumored to be on the list that Congress will eventually send to the White House, at which point President Barack Obama will nominate his choice for comptroller general. But Platts told the Dispatch that insiders have told him a Republican will never be nominated to the position.

“Given the extremely partisan environment in Washington and the fact this is an appointment for 15 years to a wholly independent watchdog position, as a Republican there is no chance of me receiving that appointment,” he said.

A Congressional panel is choosing whom to recommend for the post, which has been vacant since former Comptroller General David Walker left for the private sector in 2008. Gene Dodaro, who is also vying for the permanent position, is running the agency as acting comptroller general.

Platts’ run for the GAO position has opened up the possibility of his reliably Republican seat being open for the first time since 2000. But in his newspaper interview, Platts said he plans to continue focusing on his re-election campaign — even as he keeps his name in the running for the comptroller general slot.

Free Labor. Officials at the Capitol Visitor Center are hoping that volunteers will help employees handle the more than 2 million visitors who pass through the Capitol every year.

Spokesman Tom Fontana said officials have “begun to evaluate and assess areas where the public can best be served through the use of volunteers.” Volunteers — about 50 to start with — will help with way-
finding, customer service and administrative duties.

The CVC has doubled the number of visitors to the Capitol since it opened 15 months ago. Sporting a cafeteria, gift shops and exhibits, it’s a big improvement over the days when visitors had to wait for a tour in a line outside.

Tour guides first allowed volunteer help in 1996, but that was soon put on hold because of the construction of the CVC. The new volunteer program is in the planning stages, Fontana said, and will operate on a “pilot basis.”

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