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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civil Unions in Delaware

About half an hour ago, 'round about 7 PM on Thursday, April 14, the Delaware house of representatives voted to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. The proposal passed the senate last week and Gov. Jack Markell intends to sign the bill.

The bipartisan vote was 26 to 15. The Democratic-controlled chamber approved the proposal, which would provide same-sex couples in civil unions with the same rights and responsibilities as married couples, "to the extent possible".

Comparable same-sex unions including marriages from other jurisdictions would be recognized as civil unions in Delaware.

According to a report in The Advocate:
Last month, polling results released by Equality Delaware showed that 62% of voters supported civil unions. Opponents led by the Delaware Family Policy Council charged that the measure would open the door to marriage equality in the state.

Doug Napier, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney, repeated that claim in his testimony on the floor.

“It is riddled with all sorts of unintended consequences,” he said, while vowing to challenge the law in court. “Don’t be deceived. This bill is a precursor to same-sex marriage.”
Oh, Mr. Napier. I don't think anyone is deceived.

The hope - the prayer - is that this bill WILL, in fact, be a precursor to Marriage Equality. It's clearly an "intended consequence".

You know. Just what the Constitution guarantees.

The fear mongers were out in force, apparently, and barely able to contain either their anxiety or their bigotry:
Another witness, family law attorney Glynis Gibson, expressed concern for the law’s potential impact on children. She said the measure would give preference to a stepparent over a biological parent in some instances.

“This legislation is new and it is world-changing. It is life-changing,” she said. “And we need to think about what we’re doing when we are elevating parties to a civil union to the same level as a stepparent.”
It's breathtaking, isn't it?

I mean, when you can actually hear the fingernails of desperation scratching downhill on the slippery slope of heterosexism and homophobia while someone cries, "Save the children!"
Lisa Goodman, an attorney and president of Equality Delaware, responded to Napier in her testimony.

“It’s hard to know where to start with those since I don’t really think those were legal comments,” she said. “This bill does not change the definition of marriage under Delaware law.

The truth is that nothing has really changed, in terms of the spirit of the law. It's that the State of Delaware has begun to recognize that they need to rewrite the letter of the law to reflect the spirit of the law of the land - and the will of 62% of the residents of Delaware.

Thank you, Equality Delaware for your hard work. Thank you to all the clergy - including our own Mark Harris - for your prophetic leadership.

Moving back to Delaware at the end of May is beginning to look better and better.


suzanne said...

You know we will welcome you with open arms!

I was in the house chamber, and the opponents threw everything at the bill they could muster up, but the speaker was beginning to get annoyedm and it went to vote. I can not begin to tell you of the emotion that was in the gallery.
It ended up and exhausting but exuberant day.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Wish I could have been there. Thanks for the 'eye witness' report.

I'll be home the end of May.