Civil Marriage Equality in Delaware
Delaware state law recognizes marriages between same-sex Delaware couples as legal relationships. In addition, persons of the same gender who are in legal unions (marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships, etc.) established in other jurisdictions have the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law.
The Delaware General Assembly passed the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act of 2013 during the first session of the 147th General Assembly. Governor Jack Markell signed the legislation on May 7, 2013, shortly after final passage in the state senate.
The Act protects religious freedoms of religious societies and other persons and does not require anyone to perform solemnization of marriages that do not conform to their religious beliefs.
Transition from Delaware Civil Unions to Marriages
No more new civil unions will be created in Delaware. State law provides for conversion of existing Delaware civil unions to marriages over the first year of civil marriage equality, with or without further solemnization ceremonies. On July 1, 2014, all existing Delaware civil unions will automatically convert to marriages under Delaware law.
Between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014, those wishing to convert a civil union to a marriage without any ceremony will apply for a marriage certificate. Those wishing to hold a marriage ceremony will apply for a marriage license. All such applications should be made to the Clerk of the Peace of the county in which their civil union license was issued. There is a Clerk of the Peace office in each county: New Castle County, Kent County, Sussex County.
All conversions of civil unions to marriages apply only to those civil unions that are not subject to a pending proceeding for dissolution, annulment or legal separation.
The Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act protects religious freedoms of religious societies and other persons that are guaranteed under the United States Constitution and the Delaware Constitution. The Act specifically does not interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious societies, which are free to choose which marriages they will solemnize. Religious societies, clergypersons and ministers of any religion will not be required to solemnize any marriage that does not conform to their religious beliefs.
About Civil Unions in Delaware
The Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011 created legal recognition of same-sex civil unions solemnized after January 1, 2012. Though no more new civil unions will be created in Delaware, existing civil unions continue as legal relationships in the state through the end of June, 2014. Persons in civil unions have the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities as married persons under Delaware law.