Following the passage of civil union legislation by the Delaware General Assembly in April, Gov. Jack Markell (D) made good on a promise by signing the bill into law Wednesday night. The law takes effect on January 1, 2012 and will make Delaware the nation's eighth state to allow civil unions or domestic partnerships for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
Once the law takes effect, Delaware's gay and lesbian couples will be able to obtain civil unions, thus gaining legal recognition by the state. With a civil union, loving and committed gay and lesbian couples will have access to many of the same legal protections currently available only to married couples.
Gov. Markell called the signing a historic moment for the state. He says it serves the greater good to speak out and oppose bias, prejudice or outdated laws that "lessen any one of us." He also says the civil union bill will benefit the children of gay and lesbian parents by recognizing their families with equality.
Currently five states (California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington) provide loving and committed gay and lesbian couples with access to many of the state-level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either a civil union or a domestic partnership. Earlier this year, the governors of Illinois and Hawaii signed civil union bills into law, and couples there will be able to apply for civil union licenses on June 1, 2011 and January 1, 2012, respectively.
GLAAD congratulates Equality Delaware on this important victory, and we applaud Delaware lawmakers for their recognition of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. We look forward to the law taking effect at the beginning of next year, and in the meantime, we encourage the media to continue reporting on the significance of what this legislation will mean for the loving and committed gay and lesbian couples who want to take care of and be responsible for each other.