Delaware Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Delaware Approves Same-Sex Marriage

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It was all done with the stroke of a pen before a burst of cheers erupted inside Legislative Hall in Dover, Delaware.  Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed historic House Bill 75 which made the First State the 11th in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. 

"Today, we wrote a new chapter in our history and proved, once again, justice and equality continue to move forward in Delaware," Markell said in a statement. 

"We're very excited.  It's been a long time coming," exclaimed Stephen Campbell-King a few hours after the signing ceremony. 

He was there with his partner Charles of 10 years.  Both supported the bill through their work with Equality Delaware and used the turning point to reflect on their relationship, which began on Match.com.

"In 2005 we had a commitment ceremony which didn't mean anything legally but we did it for our family and friends and then in 2012 we were actually able to get a civil union."

Now they will go to the clerk of the peace to make it a marriage.

Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman told FOX29 it's yet another victory in what has been a long and winding trail for justice.

"It took us 11 years to pass an anti-discrimination bill.  We passed a civil union bill in 2011," she said.  "To be standing here today…it's been a long time."

The law takes effect on July 1.

Text of Gov. Markell's remarks at the bill signing follows below:

I know many of you here today, and many up and down our state, have waited years and decades for this day to come.  I know many of you know others who had hoped for years and decades to see this day come, but who passed before their right to marry the one they loved was recognized by the state they called home.  I do not intend to make you wait a day longer. 

It is in moments like this that it is truly humbling to hold this office.  I spoke in my Inaugural Address in January about great Delawareans who have changed history and made our state better for generations to come.  Those of you who have worked tirelessly for years to make today possible, who started working to make this day possible before today was even imaginable, have joined the ranks of those great Delawareans.  You have advanced the cause of liberty, equality, and dignity in our time. 

It has taken us time to know and recognize what the children of gay and lesbian parents in committed relationships have long known – that the people they love and look up to, who have dedicated their love and lives to raising them, are their parents, are there family.  By extending the dignity of marriage to their parents' relationships, we recognize what they know – that they and their parents are family – in terms that are unmistakable and undeniable.

Marriage equality would not have become a reality here in Delaware were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Equality Delaware, under the amazing leadership of Lisa Goodman and Mark Purpura.  They are passionate advocates, consummate professionals and, most important of all, kind and decent people.  They exemplify the virtues of active citizenship in a state of neighbors.   

Marriage equality also would not have become a reality in Delaware without the courageous and principled leadership of Representative Melanie George Smith, Senator David Sokola, the Pro Tem, and the Speaker. 

It is my distinct honor today to sign this legislation into law – to make marriage equality the law of Delaware.  Delaware should be, is and will be, a welcoming place to live, love, and raise a family for all who call our great state home.    

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