A bill that would give gay and lesbian
couples many of the benefits of marriage cleared its first
legislative hurdle Wednesday in Delaware, the Milford Beacon
Democratic Senator Dave Sokola's civil
unions bill cleared the six member Senate Administration and
Elections Committee with the support of its four Democratic members.
Republican Senators Dave Lawson and Joe Booth did not take a position
on the bill.
The committee voted to send the bill to
the Senate floor after hearing two hours' worth of testimony.
Nicole Theis, executive director of the
conservative group Delaware Family Policy Council, has said her group
opposes the bill because it is a “dishonest” attempt to legalize
gay marriage in Delaware.
“Our position is that this debate has
nothing to do with civil rights, we all have the same freedom to
marry a member of the opposite sex,” Theis told lawmakers.
“Marriage is about bringing male and female together, and that is
good. Same-sex marriage redefines marriage, saying that men and
women are optional for the family.”
Lee Littleton, a former state senator,
said she objected to the bill on religious grounds.
“I believe God's word says man with
man and woman with woman is an abomination, I don't want people going
to hell,” she said.
The gay rights group Equality Delaware
(EQDE) helped lawmakers draft the legislation. Its president
countered that civil unions were not marriage.
“It's not about religion, it's not
about procreation, it's not about some private purpose; this bill is
about fairness and equality. This is a moderate bill based on what
already exists in Delaware law to provide some but not all of the
rights and protections that opposite sex couples enjoy.”
At an outdoor event last week to
introduce the measure, Democratic Governor Jack Markell told the
crowd that he looked forward to signing the bill into law.