A gay marriage bill in Delaware cleared
its final legislative hurdle on Tuesday as the state Senate gave its
approval. With Democratic Governor Jack Markell previously pledging
to sign the bill, Delaware is poised to become the 11th
state to legalize such unions.
After a roughly three-hour debate,
senators approved the measure with a narrow 12-9 vote.
Senator David Sokola, the measure's
champion in the Senate, said the bill was “about the full respect
and dignity that comes with marriage.”
Mark Purpura, president of Equality
Delaware, walked through the various parts of the bill.
“Legal [civil] unions from other
states will be considered marriage under Delaware law,” Purpura
Purpura explained that major
differences beyond terminology exist between civil unions and
marriage, including possible federal recognition if the Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA) is struck down next month by the Supreme Court.
Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a leading group representing
clients who claim equal marriage laws violate their Christian
beliefs, argued that allowing same-sex couples to marry would lead to
discrimination against Christians. He warned that the bill's true
objective was to foster “a cultural change” and shun opponents as
Lisa Goodman of Equality Delaware
countered many of the claims of witnesses who warned that passage of
the law would harm religious freedoms.
“If a business makes itself in a
public space, it cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual
orientation, gender and marital status,” Goodman said, referring to
the state's current anti-discrimination law. “We've made a
decision as Delawareans – this body made that decision – that
we'll treat people equally under the law.”
Senator Karen Peterson received a round
of applause when she discussed her 24-year relationship with her
partner Vicki for the first time publicly.
“No one chose to be gay,” Peterson
said. “We are what God made us. We don't need to be fixed. We
The law is expected to take effect July