Equality Delaware is the statewide organization working to ensure and promote dignity, safety, and equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Delawareans. Equality Delaware -- along with local advocates and coalition partners -- successfully advocated for the passage of a civil union bill, which was signed into law on May 11, 2011 by Governor Jack Markell.
Equality Delaware is comprised of Equality Delaware, Inc., a "501(c)(4)" organization and Equality Delaware Foundation, Inc., a "501(c)(3)" organization. Click here to learn more about these two organizations and meet the Board of Directors and Advisory Council.
Recent advances in LGBT equality in Delaware
The Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011 was introduced in the Delaware General Assembly on March 22, 2011 with support from legislative leaders in both chambers, including House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins, and the bill's primary sponsors, Representative Melanie George Smith and Senator David Sokola. The Act passed 13-6 in the Senate on April 7, 2011 and later passed 26-15 in the House on April 16th, 2011. Governor Markell signed it into law on May 11, 2011, marking the success of years of community and legislative work by local advocates.
The civil union law took effect on January 1, 2012 and since then, 557 couples have entered into a civil union. According to Section 212(a) of the Act, same-sex couples in Delaware who enter into a civil union have "all the same rights, protection and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under the laws of this State... as are granted to, enjoyed by or imposed upon marital spouses."
Equality Delaware will continue to work to ensure that same-sex couples and their families are treated equally under state and federal law.
On July 2, 2009, Governor Markell signed into law non-discrimination legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas. The successful passage of Delaware's non-discrimination law was the culmination of 11 years of vigorous lobbying, following the first introduction of the bill in the General Assembly in 1998.
On August 11, 2009, Governor Markell signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression for employees of the state's executive branch departments and agencies.
Equality Delaware is committed to ensuring that no Delawarean is discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.