New Castle County Clerk of the Peace
Ken Boulden has announced he'll open Sunday, January 1, the first day
Delaware's civil union law takes effect, the Newark
The law is the state's first to
recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples. It takes effect at
10AM on January 1, 2012. However, government offices are scheduled
to be closed on January 1 and on January 2 for the New Year holiday.
Boulden said he would issue licenses by
The law, signed by Governor Jack
Markell in May, makes Delaware the fifth state to recognize gay
couples with civil unions behind Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey
and Hawaii. Other states, including California and Washington, offer
similar legal protections to gay couples as domestic partnerships.
Delaware lawmakers made quick work of
the bill last spring, going from introduction to passage in the
Legislature in just over 3 weeks. By contrast, Hawaii and Illinois
proponents suffered years of setbacks before a civil union law was
approved in each state. New Jersey adopted civil unions only after a mandate from
the state's highest court. In Rhode Island, civil unions were
legalized after lawmakers decided that a marriage bill would fail to
clear the Senate.