Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.

(San Francisco, CA, April 14, 2011)—Today, the Delaware General Assembly passed a bill to establish a system of civil unions—available to both same-sex and different-sex couples—that grants partners in civil unions virtually all of the rights, benefits, and obligations granted to married couples in that state.

Today’s 26 to 15 vote by the Delaware House of Representatives sends the bill to Governor Jack Markell, who has indicated he will sign it into law. The bill, which would go into effect on January 1, 2012, makes Delaware the eighth state in the country—and the third since the start of 2011—to grant same-sex couples substantial legal protections. In addition, five other states and Washington D.C. provide full marriage equality for same-sex couples. The Delaware legislation would recognize out-of-state marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships by same-sex couples as civil unions in Delaware.

Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:

“This bill marks a major step toward fair treatment for same-sex couples and their families in Delaware. With civil unions, they will be able enjoy legal protections and benefits that were previously denied to them simply because of who they love. While the bill falls short of providing full equality, it is a significant victory, and we’re hopeful that one day same-sex couples will be granted the freedom to marry.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.