The Senate’s 12-9 vote sends the bill to Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, who supports the measure and planned to sign it later in the day. It would go into effect July 1. “I think this is the right thing for Delaware,” the governor said after the vote, while posing for pictures with supporters outside his legislative office. “It took an incredible team effort.”
Gay rights activists and their supporters in the chamber erupted in cheers and applause following the Senate vote. Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democrat-controlled legislature last month, 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.
Opponents, including scores of conservative religious leaders from across the state, argued same-sex marriage redefines and destroys a centuries-old institution that is a building block of society.
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