Just after the Delaware Senate passed marriage-equality legislation, Gov. Jack Markell signed the bill into law.
That will make Delaware the 11th state, plus Washington, D.C., to legalize gay marriage.
WASHINGTON – Today the Delaware state Senate passed marriage equality legislation, putting the First State on track to become the eleventh state in America where gay and lesbian couples can legally marry. The legislation, which passed with bipartisan support in both houses, will be signed into law by Gov. Jack Markell later today. Same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses July 1st of this year.
“As America waits for rulings from the Supreme Court on two historic marriage cases, Delaware today took decisive action and guaranteed equality for the thousands of gay and lesbian couples of that great state,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “Thanks to principled impatience from state leaders in Dover, the momentum for LGBT equality continues unabated.”
The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, HRC has been an integral financial and strategic player in winning marriage in each of the eleven states and DC. In Delaware, HRC has provided significant financial investment, staff and technical resources over many years to help establish and support Equality Delaware, the statewide equality organization in the First State. In 2013 alone, HRC sent nearly 30,000 emails to members and supporters in the state, generating nearly 2,400 messages to legislators. Total HRC financial and staff contributions in 2013 exceed $160,000.
"In the years of hard work we have undertaken in Delaware, HRC has been an invaluable partner,” said Equality Delaware president Lisa Goodman. “Their expertise and financial contributions have been a huge part of getting us where we are today."
A strong majority of Americans support marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples including 70 percent of those born after 1980, according to a recent Pew Poll. Last week Rhode Island became the tenth state with marriage equality and the first since a series of sweeping victories at the ballot box on Election Day 2012 in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Today over 50 million Americans – 16 percent of the population – live in states that allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The state legislatures in Illinois and Minnesota are presently both debating marriage equality bills.
The passage of marriage equality in Delaware comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down decisions on two marriage-related cases by the end of June. Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.