Thursday, April 18, 2013

Delaware House Will Vote On Marriage April 23

There is now activity to report on advances towards marriage equality in the great state of Delaware. On Wednesday, a marriage equality bill (HB75) was voted out of committee on a 4-1 bipartisan(!) margin and sent to the floor of the State House.

Opponents to the bill testified (falsely, of course) that if HB75 became law it would force clergy to marry same-sex couples. HB75 has clear protections for religious freedom, as do all marriage equality bills enacted by legislatures (or ballot measures) in the United States. From the text of the bill:
(e)  Other than as provided in this subsection, nothing in this section shall be construed to require any person (including any clergyperson or minister of any religion) authorized to solemnize a marriage to solemnize any marriage, and no such authorized person who fails or refuses for any reason to solemnize a marriage shall be subject to any fine or other penalty for such failure or refusal.  Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, a clerk of the peace who issues a marriage license, or a deputy thereof, shall be required to perform a solemnization of such marriage if requested by the applicants for such license.
Obviously, the text itself and the legal principle of the separation of church and state make it clear that the state can not force a religious entity to perform a civil marriage (or a religious wedding). I don't understand why religious people keep on making this false claim, except for the fact that they think that if they repeat the lie enough times some people will believe it and support for marriage equality will decrease. However, in Delaware a clear majority of 54% in a recent poll said they are in favor of ending marriage discrimination against same-sex couples.

So, it appears as if on Tuesday Delaware's state House of Representatives will vote on HB75, and most likely pass it, since Democrats vastly out number Republicans in the body, and it is has bipartisan support as well as a pledge from the Governor to sign it into law.

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