After over two decades of dedication to one another, two 63 year old women made Delaware history Monday, becoming the first same-sex couple to legally wed under the state’s new marriage equality legislation.
Democratic state Senator Karen Peterson and her longtime partner, Vikki Bandy, exchanged vows in front of about 35 friends and supporters in a county clerk’s office, converting their civil union into a same-sex marriage.
On the day they officially tied the knot, they both agreed that even though it was the first day their marriage was legally recognized, the vows were simply a reaffirmation of the vow they had made to each other 24 years ago.
Peterson said even though she was a part of the fight to have marriage equality made legal in the state, and voted for it in the state Senate, she was still in a state of disbelief. In May, Peterson came out in front of the Senate during a debate on marriage equality.
Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, a LGBT advocacy organization that drafted the same-sex marriage legislation and led the effort to get it passed, was in attendance with her partner Drewry Fennell. Fennell and Goodman were the first couple in Delaware to enter into a civil union, and also obtained their marriage license on Monday.
The clerk of the peace, waived the required 24-hour waiting period for Goodman and Fennell, as he did for Peterson and Bandy. He said Monday afternoon that about 35 licenses had been granted. Under a law that took effect Monday, no more civil unions will be performed in Delaware, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year, as in the case of Peterson and Bandy.
In a feeble attempt to protest the marriages, around a half-dozen Westboro Baptist Church members stood with signs condemning LGBT equality. They were met with over 100 counter-protesters, who greeted the newlyweds with hugs and cheers.
"Our love is greater than the hate," Bandy explained when one person asked why the protesters didn't bother her.
The marriages in Delaware came just days after the Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act", as well as Proposition 8 in California, which only added to the excitement of the day
GLAAD congratulates and commends all those that worked to pass marriage equality in Delaware as well as those who are now able to legally wed.
To find out more about marriage equality and the Supreme Court rulings, visit www.glaad.org/marriage.