May 7, 2013
By Jacob Combs
Delaware today became the 11th state to offer marriage equality to its same-sex couples, after the state Senate voted 12-9 to pass an equal marriage bill. HB75 was approved exactly two weeks ago by the Delaware House in a 23-18 vote after a successful committee vote less than a week earlier, and the Senate Executive Committee advanced the legislation on a party line 4-2 vote last Wednesday. Following today’s vote, the bill will go to the desk of Gov. Jack Markell, who plans to sign it into law later today.
During the debate, Sen. Gerald Hocker filed a motion to table the measure; that motion failed 9-12. During her floor speech, Sen. Karen Peterson came out to her fellow senators, saying, “If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, you need to work on your marriage.”
Delaware’s law will go into effect on July 1st, after which the state will no longer offer civil unions licenses. Couples with civil unions can convert their unions into marriages after July 1st, or have them automatically converted in July 2014.
“This is an historic day in Delaware,” Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman said in a press release. “Delawareans of all backgrounds recognize that treating everyone fairly under the law is the right thing to do. Today our State Senate has joined our House of Representatives in voting to pass marriage equality. This law strengthens our families, strengthens our communities and makes Delaware an even better place to live and work. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Delawarean than I am right now.”
UPDATE (5:25 p.m. Eastern): Per Equality Delaware, Gov. Markell will sign HB75 into law at 5:30 local time. Stay tuned!
UPDATE (5:47 p.m. Eastern): And it’s signed. Marriage equality is officially law in Delaware. Congratulations, First State!