Delaware becomes 11th state with gay marriage - WNCN: News, Weather

Delaware becomes 11th state with gay marriage

Posted: Updated:
DOVER, Del. -

A divided state Senate voted Tuesday to make Delaware the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage, after hearing hours of passionate testimony from supporters and opponents.

Less than an hour after the Senate's 12-9 vote, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure into law.

"I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer," a smiling Markell told about 200 jubilant supporters who erupted in cheers and applause following the Senate vote.

"I am elated," said Scott Forrest, 50, of Newark, who entered into a same-sex civil union last year with his partner of almost 21 years, Kevin.

Delaware's same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democrat-controlled legislature barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote.

While it doesn't give same-sex couples any more rights or benefits under Delaware law than those they have in civil unions, supporters argued same-sex couples deserve the dignity and respect of married couples. They also noted that if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, civil unions would not provide protections or tax benefits under federal law to same-sex couples in Delaware.

"All couples under the law should be treated equally by their government," Lisa Goodman told lawmakers near the end of Tuesday's three-hour debate. Goodman is president of Equality Delaware, a gay rights group that drafted the legislation and led the effort to get it passed.

Opponents, including scores of conservative religious leaders from across the state, argued that same-sex marriage redefines and destroys a centuries-old institution that is a building block of society.

"Let's be careful about the concept of social evolution," said the Rev. Leonard Klein, a Roman Catholic priest speaking on behalf of the bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, which serves more than 200,000 Catholics in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"When you remove male and female from the definition of marriage, all bets are off," added Klein, who urged lawmakers to show an "appropriate humility" for thousands of years of human experience.

Under the bill, 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.

The bill does not force clerics to perform same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But under an existing Delaware law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, business owners who refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples for reasons of conscience could be subject to discrimination claims.

Delaware joins neighboring Maryland and the nearby District of Columbia as jurisdictions that have approved gay marriage. Last week, Rhode Island became the 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, with independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee signing the bill an hour after its final passage.

Minnesota appeared poised to legalize gay marriage after the Democratic speaker of the state House said Tuesday that a gay marriage bill endorsed by the governor and likely to pass in the state Senate also now has enough backing in his chamber. The House will vote on the measure Thursday, and if it passes, the Democratic-led Senate could vote on it as soon as Saturday.

  • U.S.More>>

  • Hundreds of teens have died playing this old, but popular game

    Hundreds of teens have died playing this old but popular game

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:08 AM EDT2014-07-31 04:08:39 GMT
    It's troubling and alarming an old trend is resurfacing, teens across the country are passing out to get high, and the consequences could be deadly. It begins with rapid breathing, then a sudden gasp
    It's troubling and alarming an old trend is resurfacing, teens across the country are passing out to get high, and the consequences could be deadly.
  • House approves VA health care overhaul

    House approves VA health care overhaul

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:57:37 GMT
    With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is moving quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care.
    The House overwhelmingly approved a landmark bill Wednesday to help veterans avoid long waits for health care that have plagued the Veterans Affairs Department for years.
  • Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-07-30 23:47:20 GMT
    Republicans are ready to muscle legislation through the House authorizing an election-year lawsuit against President Barack Obama that accuses him of exceeding his powers in enforcing his health care law.
    A sharply divided House approved a Republican plan Wednesday to launch a campaign-season lawsuit against President Barack Obama, accusing him of exceeding the bounds of his constitutional authority. Obama and other...
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.