Following overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, the Delaware Senate just passed marriage equality -- sending the bill to Governor Markell, who will sign it into law. Delaware is now the 11th state to allow all loving couples to share in the freedom to marry.
“This is a historic day in Delaware. Delawareans of all backgrounds recognize that treating everyone fairly under the law is the right thing to do. Today our State Senate has joined our House of Representatives in voting to pass marriage equality. This law strengthens our families, strengthens our communities and makes Delaware an even better place to live and work. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Delawarean than I am right now.” --Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman
This victory would not have happened without the hundreds of Delawareans who volunteered, canvassed neighborhoods, participated in phone banks, shared their stories, and reached out to their lawmakers to make this bill a reality. It would not have happened without the support of five major labor unions, more 150 faith leaders, the DuPont Company, and 54% of Delawareans. It would not have happened without Governor Markell's leadership and the commitment of the entire Democratic leadership of both the House and Senate.
It's a good day in the First State, and as we all celebrate, here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
When can couples start marrying?
Loving and committed same-sex couples will finally be able to tie the knot on July 1, 2013.
What will happen to civil unions in Delaware?
Delaware will cease offering civil union licenses on July 1, 2013. Couples currently in a Delaware civil union may begin applying to the Clerk of the Peace on July 1, 2013 to convert their civil union to marriage. One year after marriage equality takes effect, on July 1, 2014, Delaware will automatically convert any civil unions not already converted into marriages.
What religious exemptions are in the act?
The exemptions in the act ensure that Clergy are still able to choose which marriages they will solemnize and that churches continue to have the freedom to determine their own religious doctrine and practice.
What about exemptions for individuals or small business owners who may not agree with marriage for same-sex couples?
The legislation keeps in place current Delaware law, which states that when a business enters the public marketplace, it agrees to play by the same rules as everyone else, including following our anti-discrimination laws. Delaware already prohibits discrimination in our businesses and other public accommodations, and our marriage equality bill does not change that law.