In March of 2011, Senators Melanie George and David Sokola introduced a same-sex civil union bill in Delaware. There may have been opposition but it did not seem to have much force as the bill passed the Senate Administrative Services Committee, the full Senate (13-6 vote) and the House (26-15) in April of the same year. Governor Jack Markell then signed the bill into law in May and it took effect January 1, 2012.
Same-sex civil unions in Delaware will have the same adoption rights as married couples. More broadly, these civil unions will provide the same rights as civil marriage.
After Maryland became the eighth state to legalize gay marriage, Governor Markell said that gay marriage was “inevitable” and that he expects it to be adopted within the next few years. In this same interview, he referenced the ability to discriminate against individuals because of their sexual orientation just three years ago in the state of Delaware, but he does not cite specific legislation. According to him, the state is gradually accepting homosexuality more and more but he does not make much comment regarding his personal beliefs.
The Current Delaware Constitution
For now though, marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples, because, as the state constitution states “a marriage is prohibited and void between a person and his or her ancestor, descendant, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, first cousin or between persons of the same gender.”
Civil unions are in no way equal but they definitely represent a step in the right direction and, hopefully, Governor Markell will be correct in foreseeing marriage for same-sex couples in the near future.
- Can gay couples marry in Delaware? No.
- Can gay couples enter into civil unions in Delaware? Yes.