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Civil unions a signature away from law in Delaware

Delaware will likely soon join Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey in allowing same-sex couples to enter civil unions. Same-sex marriage advocates and critics alike often view civil unions as a stopgap measure on the path toward marriage rights for all, regardless of sexuality or gender identification.

Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire all passed civil unions measures only to replace them with full marriage rights later.

The Delaware News Journal reports that the House passed S.B. 30 26 to 15 Thursday night following several hours of debate. Votes fell cleanly along party lines, with Democrats, who hold a majority in the Delaware, passing the bill unanimously and Republicans all voting against it. It had previously passed in the Senate 13-6, similarly along party lines, though one senator from each party was absent for that vote. The original version of the bill, without any of the nine amendments proposed by House Republicans, was the one that passed.

S.B. 30 now heads to Gov. Jack Markell’s desk. Markell, a Democrat, is an avowed advocate of gay rights and has previously expressed his support for legislation like the civil unions bill. In an earlier statement on S.B. 30, Markell had this to say:

“When it came to this legislation, it was clear that it was about rights, it was about opportunity and it was about time. It makes clear that 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.

It makes clear to children raised since birth in a homes of love, hope and help that just because both of your parents happen to be men or women, if one of those parents dies, you will not be torn apart from the other parent. I congratulate everyone who worked so hard to make these rights real and look forward to signing this bill into law.”

A similar bill failed in a Republican-controlled committee in the Colorado House earlier this month. There is no word yet as to whether Colorado Democrats will attempt to revive civil unions legislation next legislative session.

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