Delaware Governor Jack Markell will sign a civil unions bill into law on Wednesday, May 11. The law gives gay and lesbian couples most of the legal protections of marriage.

Markell will sign the landmark legislation approved by lawmakers last month at the Queen Theatre located on Market Street in Wilmington. A representative from the venue said a room had yet to be assigned for the signing ceremony but its most likely space accommodates 150 people and larger rooms are also available.

Markell told a crowd at the bill's introduction that he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

A champagne “thank-you” toast to the governor, legislators and community, a performance by the Rainbow Chorale of Delaware and a dessert reception will also be featured at the event, the gay rights group Equality Delaware announced.

Delaware lawmakers made quick work of the bill, going from introduction to passage in the Legislature in just over 3 weeks. By contrast, similar recent victories in Hawaii and Illinois took years to accomplish. And New Jersey adopted civil unions only after a mandate from the state's highest court.

A GOP-controlled Colorado House committee killed a similar measure in March.

Social conservatives who opposed the bill testified that it would be used as a stepping stone to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

Delaware's civil unions law will take effect on January 1, 2012.