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Civil unions and same-sex marriage in Delaware

Part 3

2013-JAN/FEB: Efforts begin to
legalize same-sex marriage (SSM)

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This essay is a continuation from the discussions on civil unions in Part 2

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Status of same-sex marriages in the Northeast USA:

Map of the Northest states

All of the states shown in the above map have legalized SSM except for Delaware, Pennsylvania,Virginia and West Virginia. SSM is also available throughout Canada which shares a border with many Northeaster states.

New Jersey's Legislature has passed a bill legalizing SSM but Governor Chris Christie vetoed it.

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2013-JAN: Promotion of same-sex marriage (SSM) in Delaware:

In the past, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D) has said that marriage equality is "inevitable" and that the Delaware legislature would tackle the issue "probably within the next few years."

During an 2012-AUG interview with Huffington Post, he predicted that the legislature would probably debate the topic during its 2013 session which ends on JUN-30. He said that he was willing to take the same role as the governors of Maryland and New York states in shepherding the bill through the legislature. He said:

"I think it's always important to have gubernatorial leadership, but the other thing it's very helpful to have -- the real hero of getting civil unions done [in the state] -- was not me. The real hero and heroine were a couple of people who led a group called Equality Delaware. ..."

The grassroots efforts can be so powerful. So there was a group of people -- many of them gay or lesbian but many of them not -- who lobbied the heck out of this and they did it all over the state. I think having that group of people who were willing to work very very hard with my support is what it will take." 1

Equality Delaware was originally formed to promote civil unions in the state and is now concentrating on achieving marriage equality by making marriage available to loving, committed same-sex couples in the state.

Chris Wiess, writing for PolicyMic, commented:

"... in 2013 there are seven states queued up to fully recognize gay marriage through legislation, ballot proposals, or court actions, including Illinois, Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. ..."

"Delaware already has laws on the books recognizing civil unions, granting most of the rights and privileges of marriage. However, like many states with civil unions, without the full force of marriage some aspects of civil unions such as property rights are ambiguous.  The governor of Delaware has made public declarations in support of gay marriage, and he believes that full marriage equality will become law in 2013. The 2013 session of the Delaware legislature opened with new pressure to legalize gay marriage after gay marriage became legal in neighboring Maryland on New Year’s Day. 2 

On JAN-15, Governor Jack Markell (D) delivered his inaugural speech. In a references to the expected SSM bill, he said:

"Unwilling to ignore, even in hard economic times, the old and true maxim that ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ Delaware has also moved in four short years to put an end to legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to extend the protections of the law for all committed couples. ... We will advance the cause of liberty, equality and dignity in our time. Our state will be a welcoming place to live, to love and to raise families for all who choose to call Delaware home. ... " 3,4

Equality Delaware started its campaign for marriage equality with a meeting at First & Central Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, DE on 2013-JAN-29. More than 150 people attended. Lisa Goodman, who is an attorney in Wilmington and president of Equality Delaware said:

"We believe 2013 is the right time for marriage [equality] in Delaware." 5 

Earlier in January, she had said:

"We are confident that we will have the votes in both houses to pass marriage." 6

On JAN-14, Abby Rapoport, staff writer at The American Prospect, wrote:

"This year, activists are looking to run that number up, waging legislative battles in five key states: Illinois, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Delaware. All have Democratic majorities, supportive governors, and good odds. By the end of the year, gay and lesbian couples may have marriage rights in more than one-quarter of the country. ... the optimism is certainly growing as advocates see increasing paths to victory—and each win could have broader implications. The Supreme Court will hear same-sex marriage cases in March, considering the constitutionality of both California's ban and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. More victories in the states will help make the argument that the American public is ready for, and wants to see, gay citizens achieve full equality." 6

Since she wrote that, Rhode Island has passed a law legalizing SSM which will become effective on 2013-AUG-01.

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2013-FEB: The campaign proceeds:

Equality Delaware is working with the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, the Gill Foundation, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and other national and local organizations to achieve marriage equality in Delaware. Equality Delaware "is holding weekly volunteer events, training sessions and phone banks across the state to garner further support for marriage rights for same-sex couples." President Lisa Goodman said Equality Delaware also continues to engage people of faith and communities of color on the issue. She told the Washington Blade:

"We are doing a very serious and robust faith outreach. We had wonderful faith support for the civil union bill, and we are very confident that we will have an even broader-based faith support for the marriage effort. We also believe that we will have even broader support of people of color and across the board." 3

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2013-FEB: Polling results:

Global Strategy Group reported that adults support marriage equality by a vote of 54% support, 37% opposition, and 5% of no opinion. This is a margin of 17 percentage points! The poll sampled 600 adults who are likely voters in 2014 during 2013-FEB-12 to 14. margin of error is ~+mn~ 4 percentage points.

In addition, the poll found that:

  • Support among Independents is 61%, nearly as high as among Democrats at 65%
  • Only 27% said that a legislator's vote to legalize SSM would make them less likely to support that lawmaker.

  • 80% do not believe that allowing same-sex marriage would negatively impact their lives. 11% said it would have a positive effect on their lives.

Mark Purpura , President of Equality Delaware Foundation, which commissioned the poll, said:

"This poll is the latest indication that a decisive majority of voters in Delaware believe in treating all loving couples and their families equally under the law,"

Lisa Goodman commented:

"This poll shows that Delawareans, like a majority of Americans, believe in marriage equality. As we have seen from the recent passage of marriage bills through the House in Rhode Island and the Senate in Illinois, other states are moving to marriage. A majority of Delawareans now look forward to Delaware also becoming a state where every loving couple has the unique protections and recognition that only marriage can provide." 9

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This topic continues in Part 4

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Jack Markell Expects Delaware To Take Up Marriage Equality In 2013," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-07, at:
  2. Chris Weiss, "Same Sex Marriage: 7 States Most Likely to Legalize Gay Marriage in 2013," PolicyMic, 2013-JAN-10, at:
  3. Michael K. Lavers, "Del. advocates optimistic ahead of marriage debate, Washington Blade, 2013-FEB-06, at:
  4. Michael K. Lavers, "Markell: We will ‘advance the cause of liberty, equality and dignity’," Washington Blade, 2013-JAN-15, at:
  5. "Major push set for same-sex marriage," Delaware Online, 2013-JAN-29, at:
  6. Abby Rapopot, "Faster and Faster: The Same-Sex Marriage Momentum," The American Prospect, 2013-JAN-14, at:
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. "New Poll: 54% of Delaware voters support marriage equality," Equality Delaware, 2012-FEB. Download reports; this is an accursed PDF file
  10. Chris Gentilviso, "Delaware Marriage Equality Bill Passed By State's House," Huffington Post, 2013-APR-24, at:

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Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > SSM/Civil unions > Delaware > here

Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2013-APR-12
Latest update: 2013-MAY-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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