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
The Civil Union and Equality Act of 2011 created legal recognition of same-sex civil unions solemnized after January 1, 2012. Civil unions were solemnized in Delaware until July 1, 2013, after which no new civil unions were created. State law provided for conversion of existing Delaware civil unions to marriages between July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014.
On July 1, 2014, all existing Delaware civil unions, except those subject to a pending proceeding for dissolution, annulment or legal separation, automatically converted to marriages under Delaware law.
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.
Did You Know?
Today about 500 descendants of the original Nanticoke Indians reside in Delaware. They celebrate their heritage each September with the Nanticoke Indian Pow Wow. nanticokeindians.org