Governor Jack Markell signs the gay marriage bill
The US state of Delaware’s Senate approved a marriage equality bill on Tuesday following a three hour debate, making it the eleventh state in America to allow gay marriage.
The bill, which passed with bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature, was signed into law by Governor Jack Markell less than an hour later.
“I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer,” Markell told around 200 same-sex marriage supporters before signing the bill.
“Today, we wrote a new chapter in our history and proved, once again, justice and equality continue to move forward in Delaware,” he later said in a statement.
Same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses from 1 July.
“This is an historic day in Delaware,” said Equality Delaware President Lisa Goodman. “This law strengthens our families, strengthens our communities and makes Delaware an even better place to live and work. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Delawarean than I am right now.”
Last week, the state of Rhode Island also approved its own same-sex marriage bill.
The passage of marriage equality in the two states this year comes as the US Supreme Court is expected to hand down decisions on two historic marriage-related cases by the end of June.
Hollingsworth v. Perry challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, and United States v. Windsor, challenges the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognising gay marriages in states where they are legal.
In addition to Delaware and Rhode Island, same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington, as well as in the District of Columbia.