Dover, DE – Governor Jack Markell announced his support today of legislation that would make Civil Unions legal for same sex couples in Delaware. Senator Dave Sokola and Representative Melanie George are the prime sponsors of Senate Bill 30. Senator Liane Sorenson and Representative Terry Schooley are the lead co-sponsors of the legislation.
A few months ago, there was a candlelight vigil attended by hundreds of Delawareans who had come to mourn the loss of a young life.
It was a moment for heartbreak – to hear the story of so much potential wasted, so much thrown away, so much anguish focused so fully on one person that suicide seemed to him the easier choice than having to live with hatred directed at him because of his sexual orientation.
More heartbreaking even, is how that scenario happens again and again, across the country. But that night, so many Delawareans stepped up and shared their own stories – stories of hope, stories of promise, stories of how far our neighbors and our state have come.
How we can say to young people like that college student – live a life of accomplishment. Build a business, and a family. Embrace the opportunities before you because that hatred you’re facing has no place here.
Today, and in the days ahead, we will hear more stories.
How we can someday hope to say, with legislation like this bill today – if you’ve committed yourself to someone, and you’ve made that pledge to spend your life together in partnership, when life or death decisions come, we will respect your right to make those decisions together.
How can the state, in good conscience, say to someone – “you have dedicated your life to someone for years. Your partner trusts you to make their medical decisions if they become incapacitated and don’t have a living will but we, the state, do not?”
Or say to a child that had been raised since birth in a home of love, hope and help that because both of those parents happen to be men or women that if the parent who was the legal guardian dies, you lose the legal rights and protections to be raised by the other? That, when your world has been torn apart, the law may tear it further?
Those are just some of the reasons we are here today to show our support for this bill.
I want to thank the bill sponsors and the legislators here for their years of work on expanding these freedoms. It has not been an easy fight and it’s possible that this bill may not have an easy time as well.
Let’s be clear - just two years ago, until we signed a law to change it, it was legal in Delaware to be fired because of your sexual orientation. Anti-gay and lesbian discrimination was legal simply because the law had not caught up to the times.
Well, the time is here and the time is now – and this legislation will move us forward, together.”