Civil Unions Signed into Law

On May 11th, in front of a crowd of almost 600 people, Governor Jack Markell signed Senate Bill 30 into law, making Delaware the eighth state to grant comprehensive same-sex relationship rights.

Effective January 1, 2012, the bill grants gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual married couples have under state law by entering into a civil union.

“Each of you have made clear – loud and clear – that when it comes to civil rights in Delaware, when it comes to legally recognizing the rights of families to be families – that our laws would eventually catch up with our reality,” remarked Governor Markell before the signing. “You made clear that, when it comes to civil rights – that justice would no longer be delayed and justice would no longer be denied.”

The Path to Equality

Governor Markell recognized the importance of HB 99 (SB 121), which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the de facto parent ruling in the fight for LGBT rights in Delaware.

Former ACLU-DE executive director, Drew Fennell battled the opponents of HB 99 (SB 121) for 10 years until it became law in 2009, creating a crucial step towards same-sex relationship recognition.

Lawmakers in both chambers passed the civil unions bill by a margin of 2-1. Remarkably the Delaware legislature, which struggled for a decade to approve HB 99 (SB 121), passed SB 30 in less than 4 weeks.

The ACLU-DE worked closely with Equality Delaware, the recently formed group that drafted and advocated the bill.

I would like to thank and congratulate all members of Equality Delaware, legislators who supported SB 30, and all those who helped pass this historic legislation.

It was an important step forward towards full equality in Delaware!

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