Civil Unions May Be a Reality For Delaware

The First State cleared a same-sex civil union bill this week - now the vote heads to the senate

You may want to consider making reservations for a honeymoon in Rehoboth. If the same-sex civil union bill (S.B. 30) is passed by the Delaware Senate, gay and lesbian couples will be able to tie the knot, making Delaware the second state near Pennsylvania – along with New Jersey – where same-sex couples can commit.

The News Journal reports that the bill – sponsored by Democratic Sen. David Sokia – has gained support from more than 24 co-sponsors. After a two-hour hearing yesterday, four Democrats voted for the bill from the Senate Services Committee.

The committee also heard for locals, including openly gay police officer Mike Bouchard from New Castle County, who supports the new bill. “I hold the highest regard for my position in law enforcement,” he said, according to the news. He feels that if he’s willing to risk his life for the community, he should also be entitled to commit to his partner and enjoy the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

Rev. Rick Hensley, however, opposes the bill. The pastor from Grace and Truth Community Church shared a personal story about being raised by a single mother who lived a “homosexual lifestyle.” He called homosexuality a choice.

Still other clergy people voiced their support for the bill. The Rev. Doug Gerdts told the committee that his daughter is a lesbian and that he wishes she would be able to have the same rights as he does.

According to a statewide opinion bill, Equality Delaware, a non-profit gay rights organization, says twice as many likely voters in Delaware support same-sex civil unions compared to those who do not. The poll, which was conducted in February and March of this year by Lake Research Partners, reveals six out of 10 voters (62 percent) in Delaware are in favor of allowing same-sex unions. The results include responses from both Democrats and Republicans, young people and seniors, and both men and women.

“The poll findings are consistent with what we have been hearing for months from citizens up and down the state,” explains Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware. “Delawareans clearly support civil unions as a way to provide equal protections for same-sex families.”

Here are some facts about S.B. 30.