A bill that would give gay and lesbian
couples many of the benefits and responsibilities of marriage has
been introduced in Delaware.
Democratic Senator Dave Sokola
introduced his civil unions bill at an event held outside Legislative
Hall on Tuesday.
The gay rights group Equality
Delaware (EQDE) helped lawmakers draft the legislation.
“EQDE is proud to have worked with
the sponsors of this bill to get to today,” Lisa Goodman, the
group's president, said in a statement. “We believe that the time
has come in Delaware for civil unions and that this bill will become
law this year.”
The bill's sponsor in the House,
Representative Melanie George, told WDEL 1150AM that the measure
built upon previous civil rights victories.
“A hundred years ago, women were not
treated the same way as men, and we fought hard to correct those
wrongs,” George said. “50 years ago, blacks were not given the
same rights as whites, and we fought to correct that.”
At the outdoor event, Democratic
Governor Jack Markell also threw his support behind the effort.
an “Urgent call to action,” the Delaware Family Policy
Council urged members to oppose the proposal.
“A vote for civil unions is a vote
for same-sex 'marriage' because civil unions are a springboard to
redefining marriage,” the group said, referring to instances –
for example in Illinois – in which activists called for marriage
equality after lawmakers approved civil unions. “Therefore, civil
unions are a desperate and dishonest attempt to force same-sex
'marriage' on Delaware.”
“If government changes the definition
of marriage, which civil unions will do, it will have to enforce the
belief that same sex 'marriage' is the equivalent of man/woman
marriage. This belief will be taught in the classroom.”
In its message, the group also targeted
three Republicans – Joseph Miro, Nick Manolakos and Michael Ramone
– and three Democrats – Quinton Johnson, Earl Jaques Jr. and
Rebecca Walker – seen as possible supporters of the measure.
According to a Lake Research Partners
poll released last week, 62 percent of of likely voters favor civil
unions, compared to 31 percent who oppose the proposed law.
If Delaware approves civil unions, the
state would join Illinois, Hawaii and New Jersey in offering the
lawmakers are also debating the issue.