Delaware to Push for Gay Marriage

Equality Delaware's first meeting yields a new marriage equality campaign

Home to Rehoboth, a popular beach resort for many gay and lesbian Philadelphians, Delaware is the next state to consider a campaign in favor of same-sex civil unions. At Equality Delaware‘s first meeting recently – led by the group’s president, an attorney Lisa Goodman – 120 people attended at the First & Central Presbyterian Church in Wilmington to push for marriage equality in “The First State.”

State Rep. Melanie George and Sen. David Sokola – both Democrats – will sponsor a bill that’s expected to be filed next month to legalize civil unions, according to the News Journal in Wilmington. The bill would recognize gay marriages from other states in Delaware and will also address antiquated laws that fine and incarcerate gay couples who present themselves as married. It would also require employers to make benefits available for the spouses of LGBT employees. And while the unions would grant most of the same rights to gays that married heterosexual couples have enjoyed, religious leaders would not be forced to perform any ceremonies for same-sex couples.

“Our first initiative is to advocate for the passage of a civil union bill in Delaware,” says Goodman in a statement. “To that end, we have drafted a civil union bill, and have obtained sponsors for it in both houses of the Delaware General Assembly. We are very excited about the bill’s prospects, and have begun an outreach campaign in our community and the general public.”

Equality Delaware says that if the bill is signed into law this year, it’s expected that hundreds of LGBT couples would marry. Goodman is confident the governor will support the bill (the Lt. Gov. Matthew Deen attended the recent meeting). But this doesn’t please House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle, a Republican who opposes the push to legalize same-sex unions. Also in opposition is the Delaware Family Policy Council.

The next meeting of Equality Delaware is being held on Saturday at CAMP Rehoboth Community Center in Rehoboth Beach where the group hopes to gain more support for this historic effort to grant marriage equality.