Dover, DE, United States (4E) – Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed into law Tuesday a state Senate bill legalizing same-sex marriage, just half an hour after its approval by the chamber via a 12-9 vote.
Markell signed the bill into law in the lobby of the Legislative Hall making Delaware the 11th state to legalize gay marriage. Under the new law, Delawareans can enter into same-sex marriage by July 1 and converts same-sex civil unions to marriages.
The law ended the state’s 1996 ban on gay marriage and replaced a 2011 civil unions law. It does not compel a church or clergy member to solemnize same-sex marriage.
Among those who supported the measure was its co-sponsor, Sen. Karen Peterson (D-Stanton), who admitted her 24-year relationship with her partner during the Senate debate on the bill.
Delaware Family Policy Council president Nicole Theis, who opposed the bill, vowed to oust lawmakers who voted in favor of the measure.
Other states where same-sex marriage is now legal are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.