Delaware Legalizes Gay Marriage, We Won A Thing!

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Today the Senate of the fine state of Delaware, a state I know most intimately as the state where all the credit card companies are, passed legislation approving same-sex marriage, 12-9. Democratic Governor Jack Markell signed the bill into law today, and on July 1st all the homos will be permitted to get married, probably at a nice seaside ceremony on Rehoboth Beach.

When the Senate vote went through, the chamber “erupted in cheers and applause” at the prospect of Delaware becoming the 11th state to approve marriage equality. The same-sex marriage bill had been introduced in the Democrat-controlled legislature last month, where it won the House 23-18.

This all came to pass about a year after Delaware began recognizing same-sex civil unions, and although the marriage equality bill won’t actually grant couples more rights/benefits than civil unions did under state law, it’s still an important move for “dignity and respect.” Also, marriage does provide more benefits under federal law than civil unions do, which will matter as soon as the Supreme Court kicks the Defense of Marriage Act to the curb. All present civil unions will “convert” into marriages this year.

The debate today took about three hours, and included the testimony of State Senator Karen Peterson, who’s been living with her female partner for 24 years and justly pointed out that “If my relationship hurts your marriage, then you need to work on your marriage.” Senator Peterson hadn’t spoken openly about her relationship previous to today’s testimony.

Rhode Island just legalized same-sex marriage last week. We’re on a roll!

[Sources: New York Times, The AP]

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1783 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    So proud of my home state! And I can’t believe that my hometown was just mentioned by Riese in an Autostraddle article. Best day ever.

    Oh, and to all 5 Sussex county senators who just voted “no” to this bill, you’d best watch your backs in November.

    See y’all in Rehoboth on July 1! I’ll be the one in the rainbow swimsuit.

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        Not a lawyer but I dated one – that’s like three years of law school right? Anyway, I’m super interested in Con Law, so I want to comment, but take this all with a grain of salt.

        Civil Unions give some of the benefits of marriage as well as some of the responsibilities of it. They don’t give all of them though, and as such don’t have some of the penalties that come with getting married either. For example – if someone’s spouse passes away and they have access to a pension or their spouse’s social security, they loose it if they were to remarry. However, if they get a civil union instead, they don’t loose access to that additional income source.

        There’s 14 states (plus DC) that grant civil unions. Not entirely sure on the number, but it’s something like… I think 4 that allow opposite sex couples to get them as well?

        So the whole “separate but equal” argument of civil unions for queer couples, marriage for straight couples is something that I’m sure we’re all super familiar with by now, and I don’t think I need to hash that out again here. However, your question brings up some really interesting additional questions. What if there’s a gay couple that suddenly, after DOMA is repealed, has a civil union that can change into a marriage? What if they don’t want that conversion happening? It could be political/idealogical reasons (I don’t like the concept of marriage/marriage is based on an outdated model/it supports patriarchal notions etc.) or, it could be based around tax and legal reasons. Either way, you’ve got this whole of logistical problems. How is it going to be handled? Are you going to call up however many thousands of couples that have a civil union and ask them if they want to now be married? Are you going to require them to come to a court to change their marriage license? Will that cost them money? Will civil unions even be available anymore as a political or fiscal alternative to marriage?

        I find it really interesting! Also, it’s very possible that if I’d actually gone to law school instead of just sleeping with a lawyer that I’d be much better equipped to ask/answer these things.

  2. Thumb up 4

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    Oh man, I love Delaware, and now I love it even more.

    When I was 14 or 15 my family went on its annual vacay to Rehoboth/Lewes/etc., and I was standing in this little gazebo by the beach and looked up and saw “Andrew + Chris <3" carved in the wood. Anyway, it was a speshul moment for my in-denial-gay-self.

    (I just now realized Chris could be a girl's name and they could be a straight couple but I choose to deny that idea.)

    The moral of this story is really just that Rehoboth is fantastic.

  3. Thumb up 1

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    This is great. But 11th?? really. I try to remain positive and remember all the gains we have made but sometimes it’s hard to avoid how much it sucks that even more hasn’t been done. Well now that I’ve thoroughly rained on this parade, I really hope in the next few years that number grows exponentially.

    • Thumb up 8

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      I know it gets super overwhelming and exhausting sometimes because we have to deal with the real life consequences of all of this day in day out, but think of it this way – In 2003 we were looking at a 60/40 split of people who opposed gay marriage. In 2013 we’re looking at 49/44 in favor. That’s a HUGE change in an incredibly short period of time. It’s exponential growth right there!

      This time last year there wasn’t a SINGLE state that had approved gay marriage through popular referendum. As of November there were 3. We’re up to 11 now in which it’s legal In 2003 we had 0!

      It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. We’re like a freight train – it took us a while to get moving, but we’ve got momentum now. :)

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        15 or so years ago, when I first got involved in the more activist side of things, the veteran activists I knew would sigh with resignation when we brought up marriage equality and say “not for another half a century, at least. Definitely not in our lifetimes.” This was the era when DOMA was passed and DADT and it all just seemed so impossible. Now we have 11 states. The momentum takes my breath away, but only because I have known the frustration that came before it.

    • Thumb up 8

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      Nate Silver hasn’t yet seen any sign of marriage equality support growth in general being more than linear in terms of the overall population (i.e. in terms of the number of people who would vote in a (hypothetical) national referendum to enact marriage equality); he’s getting a 2% (more precisely, 2 percentage points) increase per year (extrapolating well beyond his projections, always a dangerous thing to do, I figure that Mississippi will become the last state to get marriage equality in 2028 or 2030, though I suspect that the Supreme Court will issue a “Loving” decision before that).

      However, given that the US population isn’t evenly remotely distributed evenly by state (the 9 most populous states have more than 50% of the US population), the percentage of the population that lives in marriage equality states is likely to grow super-linearly (though not necessarily exponentially) in the very near future.

      If, for example, Illinois and Minnesota legislatively enact marriage equality and the Supreme Court upholds lower-court decisions regarding Prop 8 in California, the number of Americans living in equality states will more than double before July 1.

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