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Delaware takes up issue of gay marriage

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April 14, 2013

By Jennifer Springer

Delaware

DOVER, Delaware: Delaware became the latest state to take action to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, with the announcement from Governor Jack Markell of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.[1] Three other states, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Illinois, are also considering bills on same-sex marriage, while nine states and the District of Columbia have already legalized gay marriage.[1]

The nine states and the District of Columbia that already allow same-sex marriage include: Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington. However, same-sex couples from those states are denied full benefits of federal marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Clinton-era federal law that defines marriage as a union between one and one woman.[2]

Previous action regarding same-sex couples includes action taken by Markell in 2011 when he signed into law a bill authorizing civil unions for same-sex couples.[3]

Markell commented that while he was confident the bill would pass, given that the Democratic Party controls both the upper and lower chambers of the legislature, "nothing is sure until it's done," and added "What we know is same-sex couples want to get married for the same reason that other couples want to get married."[1]

Markell announced the legislation at a press conference on April 11, where he was joined by state Senate President Pro Tempore Patricia Blevins, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and Attorney General Beau Biden.[4]

Republican state Senator Brian Pettyjohn said he believed Delaware's civil union law, which was approved before he took office, went gone far enough and has been a fair compromise, ensuring that gay and straight couples are treated equally while reserving marriage for heterosexual couples.[1]

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