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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 10, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 19
Eleven and counting! - Delaware enacts marriage equality
Section One
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Eleven and counting! - Delaware enacts marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Delaware has become the 11th state to legalize equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples. Governor Jack Markell signed the new law on May 7, only minutes after it was passed by the state Senate.

'I do not intend to make any of you wait one minute longer,' Markell told onlookers as he signed the bill.

'Delaware should be, is and will be a welcoming place to live and love and to raise a family for all who call our great state home,' he added.

The law will go into effect July 1.

The vote in the Delaware Senate was 12-9, with one Republican joining 11 Democrats to pass the measure. Two Democrats voted No with the eight remaining Republicans. Close to 200 supporters who packed the Senate chamber galleries cheered as the result was announced.

The state's House of Representatives passed the bill on April 23.

SPONSOR COMES OUT
In a surprise twist, Delaware Sen. Karen Peterson, the bill's sponsor, came out as a Lesbian during the debate.

'We are what God made us. We don't need to be fixed - we're not broken,' she said. 'If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, you need to work on your marriage.'

Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund CEO Chuck Wolfe tweeted his congratulations to Peterson.

'Congratulations to Sen. Karen Peterson, who just became the 1st openly LGBT state lawmaker in Delaware,' he wrote.

Lambda Legal applauded passage of Delaware's new marriage law.

'Today, we celebrate with the thousands of Delaware same-sex couples and their children who will soon be able to have the full recognition and respect accorded to married families,' Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

REPLACES CIVIL UNIONS
Under the law, no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law.

'As of July, we are considered married,' said Mikki Snyder-Hall, who married her partner, Claire, in California in 2008, when same-sex marriage was briefly legal there. The couple moved to Delaware two years ago.

The Synder-Halls said that while they don't intend to have another wedding ceremony, they may hold another reception to celebrate their new legal status in Delaware.

Scott Forrest, 50, of Newark, said he and his partner of almost 21 years, Kevin Fenimore, look forward to having the civil union they entered into last year converted to a marriage as soon as possible.

'I am elated,' he said.

Delaware's marriage equality law comes just one week after Rhode Island became the first state in 2013 to legalize same-sex marriage.

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