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Religious Tolerance logo

Civil unions and same-sex marriage in Delaware

Part 6

2013 MAY:
Bill HB 75 was passed by the full Senate.
Governor Jack Markell (D) signed it into law.
Reactions & comments.

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This essay is a continuation from the previous essay on SSM

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2013-MAY-07: The Senate vote:

The debate among the 21 members of the Senate was scheduled to begin at 2 PM on MAY-07. The vote was expected to be close. 1,2

During the debate:

  • Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, said:

    "All couples under the law should be treated equally by their government." 3

  • Father Leonard Klein, a Roman Catholic priest spoke on behalf of the Bishop of Wilmington, saying:

    "Let’s be careful about the concept of social evolution. ... When you remove male and female from the definition of marriage, all bets are off." 3

    He urged lawmakers to show an "appropriate humility" for millennia of human tradition.

  • In a surprise move just before the vote, State Senator Karen Peterson revealed that she is a lesbian. She and her partner Vicki have been partners for 24 years, and are currently in a civil union. She said:

    "If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, you need to work on your marriage."

    She also said:

    "No one chose to be gay. We are what God made us. We don't need to be fixed. We aren't broken." 4

Debate concluded at 5:07 PM on that day, and the roll call was immediately held. The final vote was 12 in favor to 9 against with no abstensions. The bill passed, to wild applause from the Senate floor and galleries. Governor Jack Markell (D) has long openly supported same-sex marriage. He signed the bill into law less than an hour after the Senate vote. 3

The law went into effect on 2013-JUL-01. At that time, new civil unions were no longer be available. Couples in civil unions will be able to convert their unions to marriages. Same-sex couples from other states who are in civil unions will be considered married under Delaware law.

While posing for pictures outside his office, Governor Markell said:

"I think this is the right thing for Delaware. It took an incredible team effort." 5

He also said:

"Today, we wrote a new chapter in our history and proved, once again, justice and equality continue to move forward in Delaware." 6

The Associated Press commented:

"While it doesn't give same-sex couples any more rights or benefits under Delaware law than those they have in civil unions, supporters argued same-sex couples deserve the dignity and respect of married couples." 5

In addition, when the U.S. Supreme Court susequently repealed Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013-JUN-26, then some 1,138 federal benefits, protections, etc. for married opposite-sex couples will also apply to married same-sex couples in Delaware. Those same-sex couples elsewhwre in the U.S. who remain only in civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc. remain without access to these benefits.

Huffington Post posted a series of videos on SSM, starting with one titled: "Delaware becomes the 11th state to legalize gay marriage" on their web site. See:

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Comment by the junior U.S. Senator for Delaware:

Christopher (Chris) Coons (D), said:

"This is a truly historic day for our state. Today’s vote was about dignity, respect, and basic human fairness for our neighbors. Every Delawarean deserves access to the full rights and responsibilities of marriage, no matter their sexual orientation. The passage of HB 75 ushers in a new era of equality in our state and marks an important moment in our state’s history. I am incredibly proud." 6

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Comment by Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM):

NOM is the main national group devoted to preventing same-sex couples from marrying. Brown speculated that Senator Cathy Cloutier (R) and Rep. Michael Ramone (R) and any other Republican legislator who voted for a SSM bill will not be re-elected if they decide to run for office again. He said:

"I think there will be some people that will be replaced. ... Either in a primary or in a general election; we don’t really care."

He also said that NOM plans to have the SSM law repealed in Delaware. He said:

"It may take a long time ... but we’ll continue to fight and continue to support candidates who support traditional marriage."

Rep. Marone said that polls taken in his district showed that about two in three adults favor same-sex marriage. 7

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2013-JUL-01: The first same-sex couple was married in Delaware:

State Sen. Karen Peterson, 63 and Vikki Bandy, 63 were married by Ken Boulden, the New Castle county clerk of the peace. Clerks of the peace across Delaware had all agreed to not marry same-sex couples until noon so that Peterson and Bandy could be the first.

The couple had exchanged rings at a committment ceremony 23 years previously, then again in 2012 at a civil union ceremony, and finally for a third time as they were married.

As they left the Louis L. Redding City/County Building, they were met by a crowd of people: six members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, who where there to protest against same-sex marriages. Also present were at least ten times that number who were there to celebrate.

Commenting on one of the signs held by a protestor that said: "Death Penalty for Fags." Bandy commented:

"Our love is greater than their hate."

Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, said:

"So many of us have been working for this day and walking down what at times seemed such a long road to get here. I was overcome with joy and relief that this day is here." 8

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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. "Same-sex marriage legislation clears Delaware Senate committee, vote expected Tuesday," Delaware Online, 2013-MAY-01, at:
  2. Lucas Grindley, "Delaware Moves Closer to Final Vote on Marriage Equality," Advocate, 2013-MAY-01, at:
  3. "Delaware becomes 11th state allowing same-sex marriage after state Senate vote," Associated Press, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  4. "Karen Peterson, Delaware State Senator, Comes Out During Gay Marriage Debate," Huffington Post, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  5. "Delaware becomes 11th state to approve same-sex marriage in close senate vote," Associated Press, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  6. Michelle Garcia, "No. 11: Marriage Equality Signed in Delaware," The Advocate, 2013-MAY-07, at:
  7. "Brian Brown: Delaware Gay Marriage Vote Will Be Campaign Issue Next Election," National Organization for Marriage blog, 2013-MAY-10, at:
  8. Sean O'Sullivan, "Cheers greet Delaware's first same-sex marriage," USA Today, 2013-JUL-01, 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-MAY-07
Latest update: 2014-SEP-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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