The gay civil rights movement continues to gain momentum as Delaware becomes the 11th state in our country to pass a law allowing same sex marriage. This was done at what seems like record speed as it appeared to only be in the beginning stages and faced a potentially drawn out battle from those opposing the bill. But quick and persistent action combined with the passage of same sex marriage in Rhode Island just last week propelled the bill further along than expected, albeit a very welcomed turnout. Here’s more:
The marriage bill passed the State Senate by a vote of 12 to 9 Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s a great day in Delaware,” said Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat, who signed it within minutes of passage before an overjoyed crowd of activists. “I am signing this bill now because I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer.”
Same-sex couples will be eligible for marriage licenses on July 1.
Delaware adopted same-sex marriage just five days after a similar decision in Rhode Island and after ballot-box victories last fall in Maine, Maryland and Washington.
During three hours of emotional debate before the vote Tuesday, State Senator Karen Peterson, a Democrat, said she had lived with a female partner for 24 years, and she challenged opponents of extending marriage to gay couples. “If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, then you need to work on your marriage,” she said, eliciting cheers and laughter.
A Republican opponent of the bill, Senator Greg Lavelle, said before the vote, “We won’t fully understand the impact of this legislation for years to come.” Mr. Lavelle, the minority whip, said it was “strange” to “have to defend traditional marriage that we have known for thousands of years.”
In Maine, Maryland and Washington in November, same-sex marriage won in state referendums for the first time. In eight other states, now including Delaware, and in the District of Columbia it has been adopted by legislatures or required by court decisions.
Public opinion on the issue is shifting quickly, with polls showing that a majority of Americans support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
“The momentum continues,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a New York-based advocacy group that aided the campaign in Delaware.
This win will inevitably draw attention to the efforts of LGBT advocates that are pushing bills in both Illinois and Minnesota that would allow same sex marriage. And adding another state may show the Supreme Court Justices who will be ruling on Prop 8 and DOMA this summer that they need to take into consideration the evolution and change this country is working towards.