Friday, April 26, 2013

UPDATE: Delaware Marriage Equality Vote Still Very Close

Sen. Catherine Cloutier may be the deciding vote on whether
Delaware becomes the 11th state to enact marriage equality
Good news from Delaware. After my post yesterday on the 10-10 tie in the 21-member Delaware State Senate on pending marriage equality legislation, Sen. Bruce Bushweller sent out a letter which thoughtfully outlined his reasons for voting yes on HB 75:
Underlying my decision to vote yes is my belief that the time has come for Delawareans to fully recognize the legitimacy and dignity of the long term, stable, committed and loving relationships of same sex couples as we do of opposite sex couples in the same kind of relationships.  To do otherwise is to engage in unjustified and damaging discrimination that is inconsistent with the values and principles of our democratic society.

Many opponents believe same sex, civil marriage violates their religious principles.  I have met with several religious leaders who feel this way.  While I deeply respect their views, and even more so their right to believe as they wish, I also respect the views of other religious leaders with whom I have also met who believe that civil marriage is fully consistent with their religious principles.  There are sincere, thoughtful and knowledgeable people of faith on both sides of the issue.  I should note that the bill is explicit in assuring that all religions are free to choose which marriages they will solemnize, and religious societies, clergypersons and ministers of any religion will not be required to solemnize any marriage that does not conform to its religious beliefs.
One of the last aspects I considered in reaching my decision was the fact that, by and large, heterosexual marriage – one man, one woman – has been the dominant tradition in western civilization for a long time.  The question is whether the time has come for Delaware to embrace same sex, civil marriage through our civil law.  Recognizing that HB 75 has no impact on any religious denomination’s view of marriage and that it changes only state law in this regard, and in light of the other issues described above, I concluded that, in fact, the time has come to do this.
However, with Bushweller's public yes that brings the vote tally to 10 (in the 21 member Delaware State Senate)  of the number of Democratic state senators publicly supporting marriage equality. The 11th public yes vote is Republican State Senator Catherine R. Cloutier. However, it is not clear why Cloutier is listed publicly as a yes since I am unable to find a link to a document where she says that she is voting yes. My suggestion would be that people contact Sen. Cloutier (at or 302-744-4197 or 302-577-8517) and thank her for voting yes on HB 75 and strongly encourage to make a public statement to that effect.

I am also told that State Senator Bethany Hall-Long is not a firm no (nor is she a public yes) on the pending marriage equality bill and that she is encouraging people to contact her (at or 302-744-4286). Sen. Hall-Long has a generally progressive record and voted YES on Delaware's civil union legislation 2 years ago. Respectful communication acknowledging her progressive politics and the nature of her district (which includes the college town of Newark where the University of Delaware is located) are probably good ideas.

Hat/tip to Delaware Liberal!

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