Yesterday the Delaware State Senate passed House Bill 75, otherwise known as the Marriage Equality Act, by a vote of 12 in favor and 9 opposed. The Bill was previously approved by the House on April 23, 2013, by a vote of 23 in favor and 18 opposed. With the passage of this Bill Delaware becomes just the 11th state to recognize same-sex marriage.
The synopsis of the Bill describes the detail and purpose of the legislation as follows:
This Act repeals the prohibition on same-gender marriage that was enacted in 1996. The effect of this Act is to allow two individuals, whether of the same or different genders, to marry if otherwise eligible. Upon the effectiveness of this Act, no new civil unions will be formed in Delaware. This Act allows both parties to a civil union that is not subject to a pending proceeding for dissolution, annulment or legal separation to convert their civil union to a marriage prior to July 1, 2014 by application for a marriage license to the clerk of the peace of the county in which their civil union license was issued, with or without further solemnization of such marriage. On July 1, 2014, all remaining civil unions not currently subject to a proceeding for dissolution, annulment or legal separation will automatically convert to marriages.
This Act also provides that for legal unions other than marriages between two persons of the same gender established in another jurisdiction, both parties to such legal union will be afforded the same rights, benefits and protections, and will be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties, as a marriage for purposes of Delaware law. In order for such recognition to apply, such union must be validly formed in such other jurisdiction, the parties thereto must meet the eligibility requirements to enter into a marriage in the State of Delaware, and such union must afford and impose on the parties thereto substantially the same rights, benefits, protections, responsibilities, obligations and duties of marriage.
This Act provides for the equal application of all laws of the State of Delaware relating to marriage, married spouses or their children to same-gender or different-gender married spouses and their children.
This Act protects religious freedoms of religious societies and other persons. The Act specifically protects the freedom of religion guaranteed under the United States Constitution and the Delaware Constitution. Further, the Act specifies that it shall not interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious society. Any religious society is free to choose which marriages it will solemnize, and religious societies, clergypersons and ministers of any religion will not be required to solemnize any marriage that does not conform to its religious beliefs.
House Bill 75 may be viewed in its entirety here.
Leslie Spoltore is an attorney with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild's Wilmington, Delaware office. You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or email@example.com.